‘WB objection wont delay Padma Bridge’

The Communications minister has assured that Padma Bridge construction will start in due time despite World Bank’s objection which caused the government to restart the entire tendering process.

Abul Hossain said it would take some time to finalise the tender and contactor appointment. “However, it will not obstruct the construction in due time.”

Hossain was talking to reporters after a meeting with a delegation of the World Bank led by its Bangladesh representative, Ellen Goldstein, at his office on Thursday.

During the meeting they discussed different issues including the funding mechanism for Padma Bridge.

About the World Bank’s financial support, Hossain said that (the WB) had agreed to provide funds. “However, they have objected on some matters. Everything will be finalised after discussing these with them.”

On the rejection of pre-qualifying tender invitation, the minister said that the construction companies, which took part in the pre tender qualification in April, were required to have capabilities in two areas.

“But none of the participants had those two qualities. So the World Bank objected. New tenders will be invited soon.”

“It will be the largest bridge of the country,” Hossain said, adding that construction cost of the bridge will be Tk 168 billion. Lending agencies are expected to fund a large portion of the expenditure.

“The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank have expressed their interest to provide funds for the bridge.”

The communications minister said that the construction was expected to begin in January, 2011 if the World Bank finalises it through a formal agreement by December.

When asked about their opinion, the WB officials said they were not opposed to providing funds for Padma Bridge.

“We have been stressing the technical issues. Finalisation of assistance will be done after the problems are resolved.”

Earlier on Sep 9, the communications minister urged the World Bank to come up with the funds it had pledged for the Padma Bridge.

The call came following a pledge of $1.2 billion made by World Bank South Asia zone vice-president Isabel M Guerrero during her visit on February this year.