Padma bridge funding: the endless drama?

The drama begun in early February of this year, following the World Bank allegation of corruption in Padma Multipurpose Bridge project in Bangladesh. In its last sequence early in today you might have found some light that could have make you hopeful about positive ending of the funding crisis. But by the end of the day there’s some twist!

In the middle of the day people of Bangladesh learned that Asian Development Bank-ADB and Japan International Cooperation Agency-JICA have extended extended by a month the deadline for disbursement of the loan they pledged to provide for the Padma bridge project. Wow, that was a great good news by the Bangladeshi online news agency While the major donor for the project- the World Bank- has cancelled the loan agreement on 30th June on corruption allegation, many have considered the deadline extention by two other donor agencies (ADB, JICA).

They even extended their imagination that this extension is a signal of World Bank’s comeback to the project! Even Bangladesh finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhit found some hope regarding World Bank’s comeback. The quoted him, “I have just come to know that ADB and JICA have extended their loan agreement deadline by a month. It has given rise to hopes. It’s good news for us. Now, let us see what the World Bank does.” Then his voice echos the peoples’ perception, ”But I believe the World Bank has to come back.”

Well, all those ‘happy hours’ are over! Not all the positive hints are positive always! Just before resting on the ADB-JICA response news people of Bangladesh finds the twist: Malaysia and Bangladesh to hold meeting in first week of next month to finalize issues on Padma bridge project.

Yes, the ‘Malaysian interest’ in building Padma brigde on BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) formula is getting shape! Though finance minister have several times denied possibility of such accord. Bernama, The Malaysian state news agency, reports on the very day of ADB-JICA response: Bangladesh and Malaysia will hold meeting from 4-6th August to finalize issues on Padma bridge project.

Since World Bank’s cancellation and Malaysian proposal, experts in Bangladesh have warned the government that building the Padma brigde in BOT method will not be a benificial one for the people of Bangladesh.


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