Malaysia submits Padma bridge plan

Malaysia submitted a proposal on Monday to build the Padma bridge. A delegation of the Malaysian government, led by special envoy for South Asia Dato Seri S Samy Vellu, submitted the proposal at the Setu Bhaban in presence of Communications Minister Obaidul Quader.

Quader later told reporters: “Malaysia has submitted the preliminary proposal. But we haven’t yet seen the details.”

Discussion on the bridge between the governments of Bangladesh and Malaysia will start within a month, he said.

“I hope we will be able to sign a deal within a few months. We think that we will be able to start building the bridge within eight to nine months,” he added.

The Minister said it was not that the proposal will lead to an agreement. “The delegation laid out an outline only. The contract will be signed once both countries agreed terms following discussions.”

He also said neither of the countries will strike a deal compromising their interests.

Asked about the proposal, he said, “We don’t want to speak about this now. Everyone will be informed during the final deal. Nothing will be kept secret.”

About the financing of the bridge, he said Malaysia would bear the entire cost to build it once the deal was signed.

The 26-strong Malaysian delegation will visit the site of the project at Mawa-Jazira point on Tuesday.

The World Bank had suspended $ 1.2 billion in pledged fund for the $ 2.9 billion project to build the bridge in September last year alleging corruption in the project. The funds pledged by the other donors had also been suspended.

Bangladesh had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Malaysia on Apr 10 to build the bridge. After the signing, Quader had said Malaysia would submit a proposal by the end of May.

The minister, however, had said on May 20 that the bridge would be built with Bangladesh’s own fund during the current Awami League government’s tenure if overseas funding was not available.

Terming Bangladesh’s biggest infrastructural project as a one ‘related to national interest’ Quader hoped for everyone’s cooperation in the matter.

When asked whether any country had expressed interest in financing the project with Malaysia, he said, it was up to Malaysia to take a call on whether to bring any other country on board.

Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said Bangladesh had expressed interest to include Qatar along Malaysia to finance the much coveted project.

The Communications Minister said it was solely Dipu Moni’s statement. “We are working in line with directives from the Prime Minister,” he said.

Asked whether Malaysia was going to be the financer of the project, he had said, “There is no certainty. A contract will be signed only after the two countries agree on the matter.”

Agreement draft within June 30

A top official from the Shetu Bhaban, seeking anonymity, told that Malaysia will present the draft agreement within June 30 if everything goes accordingly.

He said the Malaysian team had handed over two copies of the proposal to Minister Quader and Bridges Division Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam.

“They have talked of presenting the draft agreement papers within June 30 after discussions,” the official added.

He said the meeting discussed at length the estimated cost of the project.

Representatives of Middle-East-based organisation Capita Trust Group were also present at the meeting.

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