Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the much-talked about Padma Bridge will be opened for traffic in 2018 as the government has given work order for its construction.
The work order for construction of main bridge over Padma River has already been awarded to a Chinese company through international tender.
“It will take four years to complete the construction of the bridge. We hope that the Padma bridge can be opened for traffic in 2018,” Hasina told Parliament responding to a question from independent lawmaker Rustom Ali Farazi.
China Major Bridge Engineering Company Ltd which was given the work order to construct the main bridge submitted the lowest rate of Tk 12,133 crore.
The Leader of the House said the construction of 6.15km long main bridge would begin by July this year and it would complete during the tenure of her present government.
She however said the government would try to complete the construction of the bridge ahead of the schedule.
Hasina told the House that necessary allocation has been given in the forthcoming budget to begin construction of the Padma bridge.
“We will construct the bridge by our own resources. We will not go to anybody for funding for the bridge. We have enough foreign reserve. So, we do not need to beg money from others,” added the prime minister.
The prime minister regretted that she had laid the foundation stone of the Padma bridge in 2001 but the BNP-Jamaat government had not only stopped the feasibility study conducted by Japan but also pushed it to uncertainty by changing the site of the Mawa-Janjira bridge.
She also alleged that the World Bank’s promised fund for the Padma Bridge was cancelled due to propaganda by a particular person.
The premier said the technical evaluation to appoint contractor for river training work has already been completed and the last date to submit financial proposals is June 19.
She also highlighted the progress of river bank protection at Janjira point, construction of infrastructure including four link roads in rehabilitation area and handing over plots to among the affected people.
Hasina also informed parliament that army has been given the role in the construction of the Padma bridge.
Replying to a supplementary question from Haji Selim she said over-loaded trucks or lorries would not be allowed to ply on the bridge.
Responding to another question from Jatiyo Party lawmaker Kazi Firoz Rashid, she said the government has no plan to float share in the share market for funding the Padma bridge.
“We have allocated necessary money in the budget whatever we need to start construction of Padma bridge. We will discuss later whether we would float share in the capital market, she added.
Hasina said with construction of the Padma bridge sufferings to the people of southern district would be relieved.
The government would use foreign reserve wherever it would be necessary including construction of Padma bridge.
“The country is now in a dignified position as we have huge foreign reserve. We will not require further to go door to door for begging,” she said.
Replying to another question, the prime minister said the government is working aiming at encouraging foreign investment in the country.
She said special zones would be established in all the seven divisions for foreign investors.
Hasina said the government is providing loan at a lower interest to women entrepreneurs through SME Foundation to empower them.
Replying to another question she said the government has a plan to carryout feasibility study, preparing design and collection for money for the proposed second Padma bridge at Aricha-Doulatdiaghat point during the present government.
Meanwhile, replying to a question from ruling party lawmaker, Minister for Communications Obaidul Quader said Padma bridge is now not a dream but it is visible.
Railway Minister M Mazibul Hoque told a question that the work on preparing detailed design and tender documents for construction of Khulna-Mongla broad gauge railway line is underway