The government has asked a Chinese company to construct the core structure of the Padma bridge, Finance Minister AMA Muhith has said.
China Major Bridge Engineering Co Ltd got the nod at the meeting of the cabinet committee on government purchase on Thursday.
Muhith said the bridge, which will link 21 southern districts with capital Dhaka, will be completed in four years.
Once commissioned, it will boost Bangladesh’s economy by as much as 1.2 percent, the government claims.
The bridge was initially estimated to cost Tk 91.72 billion in 2011 but the spending rose to Tk 138.85 billion after the final tenders were invited on June 26 last year.
A summary prepared by the Bridges Division says the Chinese firm quoted 12.62 percent less than the estimated cost.
The finance minister said an agreement would be signed with the company in June after the prime minister’s approval.
“The construction will start in October-November and will end in four years,” he said.
The Chinese company has constructed the 36 km Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world.
According to the summary, 25.6 percent of the contract value will be paid in local currency and the rest in foreign exchange.
Out of four companies that had purchased tender documents last year, only the Chinese company came up with the financial proposal on the last day fixed for the submission of proposals.
The Padma bridge was one of the key electoral pledges of the previous Awami League government. However, the project failed to take off in five years.
The World Bank halted its $1.2 billion loan for the $2.9 billion project, raising corruption allegation. The government rejected the claims outright but began a probe.
After a prolonged impasse, the government finally decided to go ahead with the project with domestic funding.
Tk 81 billion has been earmarked for the project in the next Annual Development Programme (ADP).
“The Chinese company will give a 100-year guarantee for the bridge,” Muhith said.