Govt goes for fresh tender of Padma bridge main work

Munima Sultana
The government has decided to invite fresh tenders for the main works of the country’s largest Padma bridge project, bowing down to the demands of development partners.

Officials said the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA), executing agency of the US$ 2.4 billion project, has already sent its consent to the lead financier of the project, World Bank, agreeing to invite the pre-qualification tender for constructing the main bridge part.

They said the decision to call re-tender for the approach roads of the bridge was taken after this part’s co-financer Islamic Development Bank demanded correction in qualifying bidders from IDB member countries instead of international bidders.

Communication Minister Syed Abul Hossain admitted the re-tender and said the government has to accept the demands of the development partners to ensure the project implementation.

He said the World Bank requested the government to try again to find the possibility of better bidders when the main work is unlikely before the end of next monsoon season.

“There was not any fault in the process of first selection of pre-qualification bidders,” he said.

He added that though other major financiers have given their consent on the BBA’s selection, the World Bank wanted to invite fresh bidding as it considers none of the 11 bidders in the first PQ tender had the capacity to construct the main portion of the bridge.

“All of our works was fair. But as a coordinating agency, which committed to funding $1.2 billion, we have to agree on the demand,” he told the FE.

The minister, however, ruled out the possibility of delay in completing the 6.15 kilometre bridge by 2013 and said there are still various process to cover up the lost time and the development partners have agreed to do so.

The officials said the bank considers none of the five companies to be “qualified” for competing for the construction of the two-tier steel-truss-composite bridge as the detailed design after finalisation of the design has preferred to go for raking piling instead of bore piling.

The World Bank, in an email statement to the FE, said that the recently-completed detailed design study, which was not available when the pre-qualification was initially launched, has recommended a modification in the technical specifications for construction of the main bridge.

“Government’s decision to review qualifications at this stage for such a large contract (more than $1 billion) is prudent, ensuring high-quality construction without slowing down technical preparations or financial approvals,” the statement said.

The WB statement said the government, in consultation with the co-financiers of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, has decided to review the qualifications of interested contractors based on modifications to the bridge design.

The Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA), executing agency of the project, selected five internationally reputed bidders and sent the names to the donors including the WB for its review in July.

The pre-qualification bidding for the bridge main structure was opened on April 10, seeking the investors’ experience on both bore piling and raking piling, which means experience in concrete and steel piling.

An official said it will at least one month to start the PQ bidding process as the tender documents will require revision.