DHAKA: The construction work of much-talked-about Padma Bridge project will be inaugurated in October this year with the funding of Malaysia.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak will be present in the inaugural programme.
The deal in this regard will be signed with Malaysia in September.
Malaysia and Bangladesh will hold a meeting from August 4-6 in the city to finalize matters related to the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) project.
Special Envoy to India and South Asia, Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu, will lead the Malaysian delegation to Dhaka.
Samy Vellu will hold talks with Bangladesh Minister of Communications, Obaidul Quader, on the project and seek a firm commitment on many key issues.
He is also scheduled to visit the PMB project site. Malaysia has almost resolved all outstanding issues on the technical and financial aspects of the project, said a source close to the deal.
“During the visit, the Malaysian side will present its final draft agreement to the Bangladesh government after getting a full commitment from Dhaka,” the source added.
This comes in the wake of many conflicting media reports in Bangladesh, quoting unnamed sources and senior government officials, which caused uneasiness in Malaysia.
It has to be understood that both the Malaysian and Bangladeshi governments have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU). It was witnessed by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.
“Obviously the MOU has a timeline for implementation, and until such time, it has to be honoured. This is a government-to-government understanding,” the source told Bernama.
The Malaysian and Bangladesh governments signed the MoU in April this year and the PMB project will be implemented under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) on a Build, Operate, Own and Transfer model.
At the signing ceremony, Najib also spoke over the telephone with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina about the project. Najib said the bridge, when completed, would enhance Malaysia-Bangladesh bilateral relations.
The project is to be undertaken by a Malaysian company, which will form a joint venture with a leading foreign construction entity, the source said without naming the companies concerned.
According to the source, the Malaysian proposal had been revised twice. The final proposal has been drafted to ensure a win-win situation for both countries.
“It is now up to the Bangladesh government. The Malaysian side has taken into account all aspects, including the requests of the Bangladesh government, in the final proposal.
“The proposal is expected to be submitted to the Bangladesh government in the middle of August,” the source said.
The cost of the project is said to have increased from US$2.9 billion (RM9.08 billion) in 2010 to almost US$3.5 billion (RM10.96 billion) at present. This is among others, due to, the fluctuation in the Bangladesh currency - it currently hovers at US$1 to 81 Bangladesh Takas - inflationary pressure and the rising cost of construction materials.
There is also the country risk factor, which will be taken into account by financiers, when giving out loans to the concessionaire of the project.
It is understood that Najib is expected to attend the project`s groundbreaking ceremony in Dhaka with Sheikh Hasina in October.
“If all goes well, the agreement between Malaysia and Bangladesh could be signed by September,” the source added.
The government has received a draft proposal from Malaysia for signing final deal on constructing the much-talked-about Padma Bridge connecting the southwestern region to the rest of the country.
On April 10, Bangladesh inked a deal with Malaysia for implementing the $ 2.3 billion Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) Project.
On October 10 in the last year, the World Bank had suspended its funding for the project following charges of corruption in river dredging, appointment of consultants and preliminary selections.
But the government of Bangladesh rejected the allegation of corruption. Anti Corruption Commission also did not get any evidence of corruption.
On March 25 this year, outgoing Malaysian High Commissioner to Dhaka Jamaluddin Sabeh said the Malaysian cabinet approved the proposal to invest in much-talked-about Padma Bridge project.
BDST: 2040 HRS, JUL 31, 2012
Edited by: Abul Kalam Azad, Newsroom Editor/ M. Mahbub Alam, Asst Output Editor
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