Let’s now help build bridge fast

Co-financiers to nudge WB to cut bureaucracy in the Padma project
Rejaul Karim Byron
The Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency will propose forming a task force for new procurement arrangements for speedy and clean implementation of the Padma Bridge project.

Officials of the ADB and Jica — co-financiers of the project — said they will also propose to the World Bank to ensure completion of the pre-procurement process in the shortest possible time.

The proposals will come in the context of the usually lengthy process of approval by the WB, the principal financier of the project.

The ADB and Jica have already discussed the proposals, the officials told The Daily Star yesterday.

The WB is sending a five-member team to Dhaka in a couple of days as a follow-up to its decision to revive the $1.2b Padma bridge loan deal, cancelled in June on graft allegations.

Asked, officials of the finance ministry and the co-financiers said the WB, ADB and Jica will decide through talks the modalities of implementing the bridge project.

One of the conditions on fulfilment of which the WB revived the loan deal is new procurement arrangements that give the financiers an enhanced oversight of the process.

The proposed task force will deal with processes like selecting bidders and awarding the job of constructing various components of the project.

Originally, the construction was to be completed by 2015. Now it will take a year more if the work starts next year.

The cost of the Padma bridge project would increase by $145.75 million due to a year’s delay in starting construction, experts say.

The project, earlier estimated to cost $2.91 billion, would now need $3.06 billion.

The bridge project has been divided into five packages.

The WB will provide funds for appointing a consulting firm to supervise construction of the main bridge and for construction of an approach road; the Islamic Development Bank will fund construction of the other approach road; and the WB, ADB and Jica will finance construction of the main bridge and river training.

An official of a co-financier said that as objection has been raised against Canadian company SNC-Lavalin in the process of appointing a consulting firm for supervising construction of the main bridge, the ADB and Jica will propose awarding the job to the second lowest bidder.

Since implementation of the project has already been delayed by about a year, the WB should not make unnecessary delay in implementation of the project, he added.

In September last year, the WB suspended its loan deal, raising graft allegations. On June 29, the bank cancelled the deal, saying it had proof of a “corruption conspiracy” involving some Bangladeshi officials, executives of SNC-Lavalin and some private individuals.


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