The government has signed China Major Bridge Engineering Company Limited for the construction of the main portion of the Padma bridge.
Under the deal, signed on Tuesday, the company will build the main bridge within four years for a budget of Tk 121.32 billion.
Padma Bridge Project Director Shafiqul Islam and China Major Bridge Co-Chairman Liu Ziming signed the deal for the respective parties.
Communications Minister Obaidul Quader said he was elated by the progress.
“We have crossed an important milestone. Soon you will see the Padma bridge of our dreams in reality,” he said.
China Major will construct the main infrastructure of the 6.15km bridge.
Quader said he was confident that the bridge would be complete by 2018.
After the signing, Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project Director Shafiqul Islam said the bridge would have one year liability for defects as per the deal.
The construction company would be responsible for any problems during that time, he said, adding that under the usual process an international contractor would be appointed after the defect liability period ended.
Islam said this timeframe was being considered as the warranty period.
Asked about this, Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, who was present at the ceremony, told bdnews24.com this was standard procedure.
“Defect liability period in case of the Jamuna bridge was also one year like other big infrastructures.”
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, State Minister for Finance MA Mannan and senior government officials were present at the signing, held in Dhaka’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.
Four companies purchased the tender papers for the construction of the main bridge. But China Major was the only company to submit a financial proposal.
The Chinese government-owned company has constructed structures like the famous 36 km Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world.
The government claims the Padma bridge, when commissioned, will boost the GDP by as much as 1.2 percent.
In 2012 the World Bank, which pledged $1.2 billion loan in the project, halted its fund raising graft allegations.
Bangladesh, finally, withdrew its funding request from the Washington-based global lender on Jan 31 last year and decided to go ahead with domestic funds.
The government toyed with three foreign options afterwards – those proposed by Malaysia, India and China.
Malaysia sought to operate the bridge for 30 years and India was only prepared to provide $1 billion, diverting most of it from the line of credit it announced several years ago to fund infrastructure development in Bangladesh.
China, on the other hand, proposed building the bridge on the build-own-transfer (BOT) basis by investing $2 billion or 70 percent of the project cost.