The Asian Development Bank yesterday praised the government for taking initiatives to build the Padma bridge with own funds.
“Padma is a bridge that will be built. I believed it then and I believe it now. The government is doing everything possible to make it happen. I think this is going to become a national project,” said Juan Miranda, director general for the South Asia Department of ADB.
“I said to you last time this project will be done, this project is being done. It is irrelevant who finances it.”
The construction of the bridge is needed to take benefit from the country’s other mega projects, said Miranda, now in Dhaka on a two-day visit.
“It is a proud moment for the country. You can go through with this. This [Padma bridge] is hugely important,” he told reporters after a meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith at the secretariat in Dhaka.
The bridge will directly benefit more than 30 million people, he said, adding that the project would also help connect the Chittagong port and the proposed deep-sea port with the entire country.
Miranda praised the government for considering the original design for building the bridge.
“We, in ADB, take special pride that ADB helped to design it, helped to put it together. All the engineering works that are in place are exactly the same as we did,” he said.
The ADB official also discussed a number of issues with the finance minister, including public-private partnership projects, agriculture, capital market reforms and skills development.
The country will also see large investment on highway and railway sector in the coming days, Miranda said.
This investment is important to “reduce the cost of doing business” and remain more “competitive in the international market”.
ADB has already improved its engagement in the expressway in Chittagong, and the Manila-based donor will also work on the deep-sea port in the future, he said.
The government now plans to complete the process for tender and awarding contracts by June for three key components of the bridge project: construction of the bridge, river training and appointment of supervisory consultant.
The cost of the project to be implemented solely with government funds will increase by around Tk 4,000 crore from the current estimate of Tk 20,507 crore due to a three-year delay, officials of the Bridges Division said.
The division now aims to complete the long-awaited project by 2018, three years behind schedule.