FHM Humayan Kabir
Four major donors in an assessment have said the cost of Padma Bridge scheme might swell to US$2.7 billion from existing $2.4 billion due to escalation of prices of materials and higher interest payment during its implementation period, officials said Wednesday.
The World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan and Islamic Development Bank (IDB), which offered nearly $1.0 billion dollar worth of loans for the bridge construction, have suggested the government to conduct a wide-range study on the cost of the project.
Maunsell-AECOM, a New Zealand-based consulting firm, has submitted design in late August and has estimated the cost at $2.4 billion for building the Padma Bridge, which will connect the southwestern region with the capital Dhaka.
Communications ministry official said the four major donors have suggested the government to find out ways of reducing the cost as it will be difficult to mobilise $1.5 billion out of total $2.7 billion from domestic resources.
“The Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) can reexamine the cost by another pool of experts aiming at reducing the total cost,” said the assessment report, completed by the four donors recently.
The joint assessment said there are possibilities of price escalation of construction materials and some components of the project, higher interest rate payment, and increased expenditure for resettlement, EMP and river training during the project execution period.
The present government has committed to complete the country’s largest bridge at the Mawa-Janjira points across the mighty river Padma by 2013.
The New Zealand-based design consultant has proposed a two-level 6.15 kilometres steel-truss bridge, four-lane road link on the top and a single railway track at the bottom of the proposed bridge.
The joint assessment of the donors also said: “It will be imperative to have high quality economic, financial and financing strategy for the Padma Bridge project.”
Among the four major donors, the World Bank has assured of providing $460 million, ADB $300 million, Japan $300 million and IDB $130 million loans for constructing the Padma bridge. Besides, the Abu Dhabi Fund of the UAE government will also provide another $30 million loan.
The donors’ assessment said the government will have to mobiles some $1.5 billion from the local resources to minimise the funding gap for building the Padma Bridge, which might put pressure on its macro-economy and fiscal discipline.