Padma Bridge work awaits WB nod

Construction, River Training
The work of Padma Multipurpose Bridge is getting late as its lead financier World Bank has yet to give the nod on two key components of the project — the main bridge construction and river training.

For WB approval, evaluation report on river training project was sent in December 2010 while the one on main bridge construction was placed in January this year.

Against the backdrop, the Communications ministry yesterday sought Finance Minister AMA Muhith’s cooperation to get the go-ahead.

In a letter, Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain requested Muhith to talk with WB officials so that the bank makes no further delay.

The letter reads the WB did not approve the first report on pre-qualified bidders for the main bridge construction and river training although it was prepared following the bank’s guidelines.

Also, further delaying the project, the bank pressed for a Chinese firm, which was ultimately rejected by the government.

However, activities like land acquisition, compensating and rehabilitating the affected persons and socio-economic infrastructure development in the project areas are going on in full swing, it says.

Abul Hossain said the Padma Bridge is the government’s top priority, but local and international quarters are conspiring to defer the construction.

He said confusion and uncertainty rose centring the bridge construction due to the procedural delay of WB.

“In this situation, we feel the necessity of your conversation with the World Bank,” said the communications minister wrote in the letter.

The government has already signed deals of $1.2 billion with WB, $615 million with Asian Development Bank, $400 million with Japan International Cooperation Agency and $140 million with Islamic Development Bank to arrange fund for the $2.9 billion Padma Multiple Bridge project.

The country’s longest 6.15 kilometre bridge, including 3.68km land-based approach viaducts on both sides of the river, will connect 19 south-western districts with the capital.

The government has targeted to complete the work by 2015.

daily star

WB sluggish approach halts final Padma Bridge bidding

Shakhawat Hossain

The Ministry of Communications has sought help of the Ministry of Finance to pursue the World Bank to give its approval to the provisional bidders for construction of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge.

Ministry officials say the process of inviting final tender is awaiting response from the WB, a major lender of the US$2.9 billion project.

Minister for Communications Syed Abul Hossain in a letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Tuesday requested him to hold talks with the WB on an urgent basis to expedite the tender process.

The Communications Ministry has been waiting for the last six months for the WB consent to the provisional bidders, Abul Hossain alleged in the letter obtained by daily sun.

Under the conditions of loan negotiation, the government is supposed to follow the procurement guidelines of the WB, which is lending US$1.2 billion.

Samsung C&T, Corporation of South Korea, China major Bridge Engineering Company Ltd., Daelim-BAM-VCI, a joint venture entity of South Korea, Vinci-HCC, a joint venture of France, and India and China Communications Construction Company Ltd are in the list of eligible firms for participation in the final bidding.

They have been selected in the second attempt in last January as the WB insisted on the second tender in October 2010. The lender rejected the first tender, called in July 2010, and suggested the ministry to call a fresh tender.

The ministry officials said it (ministry) rejected a WB request to include China Railway Construction Company as a pre-qualified bidder.

The officials said the delay in the WB’s response might have been caused for dropping China Railway Construction Company from the list of pre-qualified bidders.

When contacted, an official of the WB in Dhaka said the lender had to check thoroughly if procurement rules have been followed in the process.

However, the minister for communications said his ministry repeatedly requested the WB to give its consent and sent the latest update on the progress of the project on May 18, 2011.

Abul Hossain expressed his apprehensions that vested quarters at home and aboard are out to cause delay in implementing the project although the present government wants to complete construction of the bridge before the expiry of its tenure in early 2014.

Officials said the delay has created an uncertainty and frustration despite signing of loan deals with almost all lending agencies.

Apart from the WB, the Asian Development Bank has pledged to provide US$615 million, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) $400 million and Islamic Development Bank $130 million for construction of Padma Bridge.

The finance minister announced last year that the construction of the bridge would start in March 2011.

In his recent budget speech, Muhith said the construction work would start in next October.

Successive governments have long been trying to construct the bridge which will connect directly the country’s backward southern and south-western region with economic growth centres, especially the capital.

According to JICA, the commissioning of the bridge project will contribute an additional 1.2 percent to Bangladesh’s gross domestic product (GDP) a year.

daily sun

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