Padma Bridge: Cost to increase by Tk 26.82b, tenure by one year

Vehicles on the Padma Bridge after it was opened to traffic on 26 JuneFile photo

The project cost of Padma Bridge is set to increase by Tk 26.82 billion with the extension of tenure by one more year, the government sources said, adding it will be completed by June 2024.

The project of Padma Bridge was supposed to be finished officially by June, this year. Meanwhile, Bangladesh Railway has conducted a trial-run of a train on the Padma Bridge.

With the increase of dollar rate, the amount of consultancy fee rose due to the extension of the project. The cost of contractors has also increased as the price of equipment hiked.

For these reasons, an amendment of the project is being proposed. The proposed amendment will be placed at the meeting of the National Economic Council for Executive Committee (ECNEC) on Tuesday.

The project undertaken in 2007 has been amended twice. Moreover, a special amendment was carried out.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, about the latest amendment, planning commission member Mohammad Emdad Ulla Mian said, "The contractor bill may increase a bit. How much the bill will increase cannot be said until the project is completed. So additional allocation is being made so that there is no necessity of seeking money at the time. Maybe the entire money will not be spent in the end."

He also said the allocation is being raised due to increasing the consultancy fee for the extension of the project and due to increasing VAT. The cost of the project has increased due to changing the design of the project and river training.

Where the costs were raised

As per the project proposal, the highest amount of cost is being increased for the consultancy purpose. A total of Tk 9.57 billion is being raised for consultancy purposes. Consultancy service of additional 43 months has been needed while consultancy service of 55 months has been needed for river training.

In the case of dealing with foreign contractors, the government has increased VAT and income tax by 10 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. The cost has increased by Tk 4.05 billion. Additional Tk 2.82 billion has been spent for river training. Costs in different sectors including approach road, bridge, culvert, railway bridge have increased.

Big holes developed in the river bank due to floods and strong current in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021. At the time additional cost was required. Moreover, river training was needed for relocating Kathalbari ferry ghat to Bangla Bazar. In 2012, the old ferry ghat in Mawa areas was fully damaged in the rainy season. At that time, design in river training was changed and the cost went up.

According to the proposed amendment, when the deal was made, the price of dollars was Tk 78.30. Afterwards, the price of dollars gradually increased to Tk 107. As a result, the cost of the project has increased. 

Besides, the costs including inauguration of the bridge and functions at deputy commissioners' office of all districts were not included in the cost of the main project. Now all those costs have been included in the proposed amendment.

A project for Padma Bridge was taken at an estimated cost of Tk 101.61 billion in 2007. Afterwards, Awami League came to power. Changing the design of the bridge, rail was included. At that time, the cost was estimated at Tk 205.07 billion. The tenure of the project was fixed till 2018. The cost was raised twice to Tk 301.93 billion

With the increase of cost, the tenure of projects is also increased. If the proposed amendment was approved in the next ECNEC meeting, the total cost of Padma Bridge will stand at Tk 328.75 billion. The entire money is being provided from the local sources.

In the beginning, the World Bank was supposed to finance the Padma Bridge. But suspecting corruption, the World Bank moved away in 2012. There was a strained relation between the government and the World Bank.