Anwar Hossain
The government plans to construct the second Padma Bridge in the coming days. This bridge will be built in the Paturia-Daulatdia area, regarding which feasibility studies are already underway. Once the studies are completed, tenders for the construction of the bridge will be floated.
The government intends to implement this mega project with the help of the country’s development partners, given that the proposed 6.10 kilometer long second Padma Bridge will be costlier than the first one.
The Asian Development Bank is willing to finance this mega project. But the Bank is yet to receive an official proposal from the government on the matter.
At the last budget session of Parliament, it transpired that the ADB might finance the second Padma Bridge. The completion of the project will entail $5 billion.
A senior official of the ADB said, “We are ready to provide loan for the second Padma Bridge, but we need an official proposal from the government. We would like more development partners’ engagement in the project. This will make the construction of the bridge easier.”
According to sources, having learned from the previous ‘embarrassing’ experience of the World Bank’s desertion of the first Padma Bridge project over fake allegations of corruption, the government is taking time before reaching a final decision about a loan agreement. After considering various aspects, including the nature of the loan, the government will finally take a decision.
About the ADB loan and financing of the second Padma Bridge, M.A. Mannan, Minister of State for Finance and Planning, told a news agency, “The second Padma Bridge will be constructed at Paturia-Goalondo area. At present, we are thinking whether we will take a loan or use our own money.”
“Everyone wants to give us loans for different projects as our ability to repay loans has increased. But we will surely think twice before taking loans; we have to examine loan proposals before taking a final decision,” he added.
Once the second Padma Bridge is constructed on the Paturia-Goalundo route, the distance between Dhaka and Meherpur, Chuadanga, Kushtia, Jhenaidah, Magura and Rajbari will be drastically reduced.
It may be recalled that in January 2013, the World Bank (WB) canceled its loan agreement with the Bangladesh government on the Padma Bridge project over spurious allegations of corruption. The government then moved ahead with constructing the bridge with its own resources. But now, in clearly changed circumstances, the ADB wants to be a lead donor once it comes by a government proposal on the second Padma Bridge.
Initially, expenditure on the feasibility study project was estimated at Tk 13122 crore. With the estimated amount the government wants to proceed with work on the second Padma Bridge. ***