Padma Bridge cost may hit $2.0b

The largest infrastructure project to be made of steel
Munima Sultana
The cost of the Padma multi-purpose bridge is likely to hit two billion dollars as experts and consultants have decided to build the country’s biggest construction project with steel.

Officials said the consulting firm Maunsell AECOM finalised the ‘scheme’ design of the bridge based on steel-truss composite and will hand over the plan to the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) next week.

Scheme design is an intermediate layout of a construction project. Architects and civil engineers make detailed construction plan based on this design.

“It is now final that the Padma bridge will be made of steel structure,” project director (PD) Rafiqul Islam told FE.

He said the government-appointed experts and consultants have unanimously favoured steel structure over concrete to reduce construction time.

“Concrete bridge eats up more time than the steel. Still the experts and consultants chose steel in a bid to save valuable time,” Mr. Islam said.

The Awami League government wants to finish the construction — one of its priority project — by 2013, a year before its five-year tenure expires.

Mohammad Zahid Hosssain Ferdous, secretary in-charge of BBA, said the contractors can build a steel bridge over the Padma in three and a half years, whereas a concrete structure may take at least six years.

“The amount of time a steel bridge is going to save will be very crucial for our economy. The saved time means a lot to the economy and the people in southern Bangladesh,” he said.

Another official said because of steel structure the project cost is expected to cross the current estimated budget of $ 1.8 billion, which was prepared based on the feasibility study.

“The cost may go up by 10 to 20 per cent from the estimated budget if steel is used,” he said preferring anonymity.

After the scheme design, experts and consultants will finalise the detailed layout by December this year. Construction will begin by July next year.

In the first design, the length of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, set to be the country’s costliest infrastructure project, has been estimated at 6.15 km and width 21.10 metre.

It will be the longest bridge in the country, surpassing the 4.80 km long Jamuna Multipurpose bridge constructed in 1997.

It will have four-lane road on the top and a broad-gauge rail lane below, with 150 spans, four-kilometre approach road at Mawa and 12 km in the other side in Madaripur.

The World Bank has assured to lend $600 million for the project. The Asian Development Bank said it would provide $ 350 million, Japan International Cooperation Agency of $200 million and Islamic Development Bank of $ 300 million.