According to the bridge authority, on the first day 26,589 vehicles crossed through the Mawa point paying toll of Tk 10,895,900 while 24,727 vehicles crossed through the Zajira point paying toll of Tk Tk 10,404,400.

Projection on vehicle movement

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.

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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.

The projection report also said the income from the bridge in the first year would be around Tk 14.30 billion (1430 crore). From that calculation, the income from the bridge in first 35 years would be more than Tk 900 billion (90,000 crore). But the bridge authority, the organisation involved with construction and operation of the bridge, will not get all the money. It has to pay VAT to the government. Then there is salary and allowances of toll collectors and installments of loan to be paid to the finance ministry. The remaining amount will be considered as the profit of the bridge authority.

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Though the Padma Bridge was self-financed, the finance ministry provided the funds as loan at 1 per cent interest rate to the bridge authority. The loan has to be repaid within 35 years. The installment has to be paid once in every three months. Overall, the money (loan and interest) will be repaid in 140 installments.

Expenditure of toll

As of now the estimated expenditure in the Padma Bridge Project is Tk 301.93 billion (30,193 crore). Of this, Tk 3 billion (300 crore) was collected from the Japan government’s loan waiver fund. That money will not have to be repaid. As a result, the bridge authority actually has to pay Tk 299 billion (29,900 crore) along with 1 per cent interest. In total, the BBA will have to pay Tk 364.03 billion (36,403 crore) to the ministry.

The loan agreement between the finance ministry and bridge authority elaborated the expenditure of toll money. It said seven per cent of the income will be spent for the bridge’s maintenance, including the toll collection company’s expenses. The bridge might need large renovations works once in every 10 years. In that case, the cost could be Tk 5 billion (500 crore) in the 10th year of opening the bridge while Tk 10 billion (1,000 crore) in the 20th year. The cost would be Tk 15 billion (1,500 crore) in the 30th and 40th years each. Of the toll realised, 15 per cent money will have to be paid as VAT while depreciation cost would be 2 per cent of the construction cost. Finance ministry’s installments will be paid from the profit after meeting all the expenses. The bridge authority will also pay income tax at 25 per cent rate on the net profit it would make after paying the installment to the ministry.

The agreement also mentioned increasing the toll rate by 10 per cent after every 15 years. In that case, the toll for a car will be more than Tk 2,000 in 2053.

* The report has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza

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