According to the plan of Padma bridge project, the contractor is supposed to finish the construction of Padma bridge by 30 June. Meanwhile, the Bridges Division has appointed contractors for collecting toll and maintaining the bridge.

Korea Express Corporation (KEC) and China Major Bridge Engineering Company (MBEC) have got the work of toll collection. Meanwhile, MBEC is doing the work of main bridge and KEC is working as consultant.

These two companies will collect toll and maintain the bridge for the next five years. They will be paid Tk 6.93 billion for five years.

The Bridges Division sources said letters have been sent to KEC and MBEC for taking preparation in the first week of this month.

It said the government has taken preparations to open the bridge by 30 June. The toll collection may start on 1 July. The preparation has to be taken accordingly. After receiving letters, the companies have initiated a move to procure software and hardware from different companies of South Korea.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, bridges division joint secretary Rahima Akter said they have prepared a proposed toll for the Padma bridge. The summary will be sent to the prime minister this month or the next month.

Bridges Division sources said a Bridges Division committee made the proposal of toll six months ago. A circular will be issued once the prime minister approves it. There is a little chance to reduce the toll. Government policymakers think the prime minister will give the approval.

Proposed toll rate

The length of the Padma bridge is 6.15 kilometers. The length of the viaduct on both sides is 3.68 kilometers. In total the length is 9.83 kilometers. On the contrary, the length of the Bangabandhu bridge is 5 kilometers. About Tk 400 billion was spent on the construction of the Bangabandhu bridge. When the bridge was open in 1998, the rate of toll was little. The rate of toll was increased in 2011 and 2021. The proposed toll of the Padma bridge is about double than that of the Bangabandhu bridge.

Ferry's toll for goods carrying trailer (four axle) is not fixed. The toll of such type of trailer is Tk 3,000. Tk 6,000 have been proposed for the Padma bridge.

Bridges Division sources said the proposed toll will be applicable for 15 years. The rate of toll will be raised by 10 per cent every 15 years.

Estimated number of vehicles plying on the Padma bridge has been determined. According to the assessment, about 8,000 vehicles was supposed to use the bridge daily after opening of the bridge in 2021. The number of vehicles will exceed 71 thousand after 35 years.

Loan payment from the income

Although the bridge is being built with own fund, the finance ministry is providing the fund as loan to the Bridges Division.

The bridge regulatory body, the bridge authority, is an autonomous organisation. The organisation will run on its own income. The bridge authorities have to pay the loan along with 1 per cent interest in 35 years.

As per the agreement with the finance ministry, the installment of loan payment is supposed to begin from the 2021-22 financial year.

The Bridges Division officials said the agreement has to be amended a bit. The agreement was made estimating that the bridge will open to traffic in 2020.

The government has a decision that the autonomous organisation need not pay the entire loan. The Bridges Division is expecting so in case of Padma bridge. Besides, the lands purchased by the fund of the project have been handed over to the other organisations including the army. The Bridges Division is in favour of deducting this expenditure.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.

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