Padma Bridge row will be over soon : ADB, JICA

Munima Sultana
Against the backdrop of the Padma Bridge project’s facing an uncertainty over its financing after its premier financier World Bank’s announcement to put on hold its involvement in the scheme until the allegation of corruption in the bidding process is settled, the two other co-financiers of the grand task have expressed the hope that the problem would be resolved soon.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have shared their views on the recent situation concerning the Padma Bridge project with the FE saying they were monitoring the developments.

The Manila-based lending agency ADB issued a statement exclusively to the FE yesterday (Friday) upon being asked about its stand on the present state of Padma Bridge project, and said it views with serious concern the reported allegation of corruption in procurement activities relating to the project.

ADB, however, said it would continue to work with its partners including other financiers and the government.

“ADB is closely monitoring the situation, and will continue to work closely with its partners, including other financiers and the Government of Bangladesh, to ensure the project is implemented according to ADB’s governance and anti-corruption policies,” the statement said clearing the lending agency’s stand on the issue.

Although the JICA Dhaka office declined to comment on the Padma Bridge project’s alleged graft issue, it also hoped that the issue would be solved soon.

“We hope that the issue will be resolved soon and the project will go back to its own path,” said Mayumi Endoh, senior representative of JICA Dhaka office.

She, however, said taking up the corruption issue is needed for the interest of the people of the country and also for implementation of the project.

She added that the World Bank has shared the allegation issues saying there are always countless allegations in the bidding of a big-size project.

Since the Padma Bridge project was initiated, the World Bank (WB) has assured of providing $400 million but it raised its committed amount to $1.2 billion for the country’s longest bridge. It later repeatedly emphasised making the project free of corruption and announced a halt temporarily until the alleged graft issue was settled after investigation.

After JICA conducted the feasibility study in 2005 and found the Mawa-Jajira point suitable for the Padma Bridge, ADB came forward to appoint consultants to carry out all kinds of design work.

They both assured the government at the initial stage of the project of providing $300 million each for the project, which increased to $400 million from JICA and $615 million from ADB.

The 6.15 kilometre Padma Bridge project has another donor — Islamic Development Bank (IDB), which, however, took away its commitment part to the construction of the Jajira point of the approach road.

It has already made its fund effective as the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, the executing agency, has almost completed evaluation of the final tender for the approach road work.

Any comment on the present ‘impasse’ over the Padma Bridge project could not be elicited from IDB.


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