The government has requested the co-financiers of the US$ 3.0 billion Padma Bridge project to extend the effectiveness of their respective loans as those expire this month, giving the mega project the time for completing the bidding process.
Officials said the Bridge Division, which owns the project, has already sent a letter to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) to request the financiers for the loans’ extension by another three months.
The effectiveness of around $2.45 billion loan, to be provided by the main financiers World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Islamic Development Bank, will end on January 27.
“We have already talked with some financiers of the project about the time extension and hope to get their cooperation,” said project director Shafiqul Islam.
Earlier, the Bridge Division requested the four financiers to extend the time of loan effectiveness after it expired in October amidst uncertainty in implementing the Padma Multi-purpose Bridge project following the World Bank allegations of graft in the scheme’s bidding process.
All the financiers including World Bank, the coordinating agency of the project, extended the time upon the request.
The officials said extension of the loan effectiveness was important as the expiry would compel the government to pay service charges of the lenders, even if the project was not ready for start.
They said if even the present uncertainty with the project was over, the extension would be necessary and expressed hope that all the development partners would be cooperative in extending the time.
The stalemate over the Padma Bridge project is also expected to be over after an alternative executive director (AED) at the World Bank (WB) headquarters in Washington has expressed his optimism about disbursement of the Bank’s US$1.20 billion’s worth loan for the Padma Bridge recently.
According to the loan agreement signed between the government and development partners during March-April last year, World Bank was to provide $1.20 billion, ADB $615 million, JICA $400 million and IDB $140 million for the construction of steel-truss composite road-cum-rail bridge.
Once completed, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge over the mighty river Padma will connect a good number of districts of the country with the capital, along with ensuring regional connectivity.