Padma Bridge project Malaysian team to hand over draft deal today

A Malaysian delegation arrived in Dhaka Saturday midnight to submit its final draft agreement with a proposal to construct the much talked about Padma bridge.

Led by Malaysian Special Envoy to India and South Asia Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, the delegation will hand over the draft copy to Communications Minister Obaidul Quader at his secretariat office today (Sunday).

The Malaysian envoy will also meet with Finance Minister AMA Muhith in his ministry at the secretariat and visit the Padma bridge site before the delegation leaves for home on Tuesday.

Officials said the government is waiting for the draft agreement copy to see what the Malaysia government has proposed for the funding of the country’s most expensive infrastructure project.

The officials said the Malaysian government has been guided to follow the study of the project’s New-Zealand based consultant — AECOM Maunsel — for giving their option of investment.

“There is no scope of going beyond of the feasibility study under which two to three toll proposals have been recommended for the country’s prestigious project,” said an official of the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA), executing agency of the mutli-donor project.

He said though the Malaysian media reported about the delegation visit is on handing over the draft agreement proposal, the government is yet to learn anything about the draft.

Padma Multi-purpose Bridge has been designed with highly technical engineering design with a cost of US$ 2.9 billion keeping 6.15 kilometre road on the two-tier bridge’s top and rail on the bottom.

Earlier, the BBA received two of the delegation’s proposal with incomplete form to sign an agreement.

Another official said during the last one month, there had been communication between the two countries through email and visit to meet Malaysian’s investors and engineers’ queries.

“But we have yet to get an idea what Malaysian is going to be proposed after receiving our response time to time,” he told the FE, preferring not to be named.

According to a report of the Malaysian national news agency Bernama, published on July 31, the country’s envoy would submit the final draft agreement to the Bangladesh government ‘after getting a full commitment from Dhaka’ and he would also seek ‘a firm commitment on many key issues’ relating to Padma bridge.

It also said the Malaysian proposal had been revised twice. The final proposal has been drafted to ensure a win-win situation for both the countries.

The Malaysia has shown its interest to construct the Padma bridge after the World Bank, coordinating financier of the four co-financiers project, suspended its part of $1.2 billion commitment to the project in September on allegation of graft in the bidding process.

Though the government has rejected the WB’s allegation but it could not convince the bank during its nine months of negotiation leading the Washington-based lender to cancel its loan in June 29.

While the negotiation on the project funding with WB was going on, the Malaysian and Bangladesh governments, however, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in April to allow the south east Asian country to propose their funding arrangement under the public-private partnership (PPP) on a build, operate, own and transfer (BOOT) model as an option for Bangladesh, beside other alternatives being on the card.

However, amidst the circumstances, the government is yet to make its mind and announced to both construct the longest bridge of the country through convincing WB and other donors as well as government owned fund.

Recently, it is also considering calling tender for the 6.15 km bridge this month as to meet their election pledge as the election has now been very near.


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