Mohammad Zakaria
The government is all set to kick-start the construction of Padma Bridge Rail-link project by august next, with an aim to connect the country’s 21 south-western districts with the capital to boost industrial expansion in the region.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will lay the foundation stone of the Padma Rail-link project at Mawa section in any day of August,” a senior official of Bangladesh Railways told the Bangladesh Post.
The railways ministry hopes to start the works of the Tk39,000 mega project in the first week of August, the senior official said.
At a programme at the Rail Bhaban in the capital on Tuesday, railways minister Mujibul Haque said the incumbent government has developed country’s rail connectivity. It has taken several projects about railways as train journey is very familiar and comfortable for the passengers.
“We have already signed the loan agreement with the China Exim Bank for implementing Padma rail-link project to connect the southern parts with the capital,” he added.
The loan agreement worth $2.67 billion was signed in Beijing between Economic Relations Division (ERD) and China Exim Bank in Beijing in April.
The Padma Rail Link project is estimated at Tk 39,246.80 crore. Of the estimated cost, Tk 18,210.11 crore will come from the government exchequer fund while the rest, Tk 21,036.69 crore, as project assistance from China.
BR sources said the railways ministry has finalised the project summary which will be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), seeking a date when the premier would be available for inaugurating the project.
Bangladesh government has already given the commitment fees of the rail project to China. The fund will be disbursed soon.
According to project, 172-kilometer long rail lines will be constructed from the capital to the country’s south-western districts via the Padma Bridge.
On October 14, 2016, Bangladesh and China signed a memorandum of understanding during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Bangladesh under government-to-government for constructing this mega infrastructure development project.
China will bear the 85 percent of the total cost under Preferential Buyer’s Credit.
The country’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth is expected to accelerate by 1.2pc and the regional GDP in the southwest zone by 3.5pc once the project is complete.
Bangladesh has to count 2 percent interest and 0.25 percent service charge during the 20 years of repayment, including five years grace period.
The bridge lies on the Dhaka-Kolkata link and will form an integral part of the Asian Highway and EuroAsian Railway network systems.