A night view of the Padma Bridge from Mawa end in Munshiganj on 24 June 2022.
Dipu Malakar

Bangladesh Bridge authority is going to form a company in a bid to operate and maintain the Padma Bridge in the future.

A letter concerning the matter was sent to the departments of joint venture companies and farms on 25 August.

The letter reads the bridge authority has taken an initiative to form a company. In this context, a request is being made to preserve the name: ‘Padma Bridge Operation and Maintenance Company Limited’-- that will be the name of the company.

The Padma Bridge was inaugurated on 25 June this year.

Presently, Korea Expressway Corporation and China Major Bridge Engineering Co Ltd (MBEC) are collecting toll with a five-year long contract at 6.93 billion.

Apart from collecting toll, they are also responsible for placing weight scales on both sides of the bridge, installing CCTV cameras and repairing the bridge.

Although the company will be formed, two foreign corporations will remain in-charge of the bridge as per the contract. However, the bridge authorities have taken this initiative in a bid to operate the bridge in the future.

Joint secretary of the bridge division Rahima Akter told Prothom Alo that, "The works as to how the company would run and how its manpower would be recruited are underway. Emphasis has been given to complete the task of forming the company soon."

Earlier, road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said the government would recover the expenses of constructing the Padma Bridge through toll collection by 2057.

The minister said, with the toll collected from vehicles crossing the Padma Bridge, the bridges authority will pay back the loan taken from the government in 140 installments spanning 35 years.

An installment will be paid after every three months. So, by 2057, the funds spent to construct the Padma Bridge will be fully recovered.

As per the bridge authority info, a total of 1.81 million transports crossed the bridge between 26 June and 28 August -- that is 16,899 per day.

Around 24,000 vehicles will use the bridge every day, a pre-construction projection report said.

A projection on the number of vehicles to use the Padma Bridge and toll to be realised from them was made in the feasibility study of the Padma Bridge Project in 2005.

Later, in 2010, the consultancy firm that prepared the design of the bridge drew up a chart on the number of vehicles to use the bridge in first 35 years and income from those vehicles. Based on this, the Bangladesh Bridge Authority signed a loan agreement with the finance ministry in August 2019. It detailed the income, expenditure and profit.

As per the projection, around 23,954 vehicles would cross the Padma Bridge every day in the first year. In 2029, the number will be increased to 34,725, which will be 66,829 in 2050.

The consultants fixed the rate of increase of the number of vehicles taking into consideration the number of vehicles cross the river by ferry, growth of the country’s economy and per capita income, road communication development and future development plans.