Tk 81b allocation likely for Padma Bridge next fiscal

padmaDoubts cast over spending of fund
Munima Sultana: The government is considering allocation of around Tk 81 billion for its fast-track Padma Bridge project in the next budget, though nearly two-thirds of the fund allocated for the purpose in the current fiscal year (FY) remains unspent.

Officials said, if allocated, the figure would be higher by about Tk 12.48 billion than that of the current fiscal.

“We have sought Tk 81 billion from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for the Padma bridge project for the FY 2014-15, which is also higher by around Tk 250 million than the yearly budget fixed earlier by the ministry for the purpose,” said a senior Bridge Division official.

He said the amount might be needed as all kinds of work under the project would go on in full swing during the next fiscal.

Experts and engineers, however, expressed doubts about spending the proposed higher budgetary allocation in the next fiscal by the authority in view of the progress made in the Padma Bridge project implementation so far.

They said due to the delay in completing the bidding for the two main jobs of bridge construction and river training work in the current fiscal year, it would be hard to spend the lion’s share of the allocation during the next fiscal year.

The Bangladesh Bridge Authority, executing agency of the US $ 2.9 billion Padma Bridge Project, was allotted Tk 68.52 billion in the current fiscal year. But officials said it would be possible to spend only Tk 25 billion by June.

It has already revised its budget under the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the FY 2013-14 giving up the rest of the amount.

BBA officials, however, said the possible allocation of the amount for the next fiscal had been fixed after reviewing the project’s progress in a tripartite meeting at the MoF.

They said the amount had been proposed based on the assumption that the BBA would start receiving bills from different contractors working in different segments of the projects.

The MoF held a pre-budget meeting on the Padma bridge project with the Bridge Division and the Planning Commission Thursday.

An engineer, however, pointed out that the project might need the highest amount of fund for the main bridge construction and river training work.

“The firms that will construct the main bridge and do the river training work will have to bring heavy equipment at the spot and start trial piling for which a year will be required,” he said preferring not to be named.

The present Awami League government undertook the project during its last tenure but it has included it in the six fast-track projects with a target to construct the 6.15-kilometre bridge in three years.

The BBA has already awarded the work on two approach roads and a service area, but it is yet to complete the bidding process for the jobs of constructing the expensive road-cum-rail bridge and doing the river training work. It also could not complete the selection of any construction supervision consultant (CSC) for the main two components of the project, without which the main bridge construction and the river training work would not begin.

The Bangladesh Army in association with the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology is now working as the CSC for the Tk 10.97 billion Jajira approach road construction, Tk 1.93 billion Mawa approach road construction and the Tk 2.08 billion service area-2 development work.

The government has fixed Tk 91.72 billion as the cost for the main bridge work and Tk 53.62 billion for the river training work.

thefinancialexpress