The lifespan of Padma Bridge has been estimated a hundred years. So the government considers the maintenance of the bridge important and the bridge construction costs will be covered from the toll.
The Bridge Division has decided to form a state-owned company for the maintenance of the bridge as well as toll collection. The decision was taken at the board meeting of the Bangladesh Bridge Authority last month
The government formed the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge Authority (JMBA) during the construction of the Bangabandhu Bridge on the Jamuna River. Later, the JMBA was rebranded as Bridge Authority, which also oversees the Muktarpur Bridge.
Similar initiative had been taken to form a separate entity for the Padma Bridge. However, several officials of the Bridge Division it will be enough to increase the capacity of the Bridge Authority instead of forming a new company since a formation of a new one means additional expenditure.
Currently, there are 95 personnel in the Padma Bridge project excluding workers and consultants of the contractor firm. Of those, 32 hold senior posts and they are from various government agencies including the public administration ministry, the Roads and Highways Department and the railway ministry. They will return to their respective offices once the project is completed and many will retire.
There are 63 personnel holding various posts, including assistant director, deputy assistant director, accountant, data entry operator, drivers and office assistants, in the Padma Bridge project and their jobs are temporary. They demand that their jobs be made permanent.
Though initiative has been taken to form a new company, it will not take responsibility of the maintenance of the bridge and toll collection for now.
The Korea Expressway Corporation (KEC) of South Korea and China Major Bridge Engineering Company (MBEC), contractor firm constructing the Padma Bridge, have been tasked with the responsibility of the maintenance of the bridge and toll collection for next five years.
The KEC and the MBEC will get Tk 6.93 billion (693 billion) in five years and the Bridge Authority will supervise the contractors.
Officials of Bridge Division said various legal and institutional preparations are necessary to form a company and preparations are on now. This will be followed by various processes including recruitment.
On condition of anonymity, an official of the bridges department on Wednesday told Prothom Alo, “The reason for giving the task of collecting and maintaining the toll of the Padma Bridge to foreign agencies for five years is that the government want to utilise this time to increase our own capacity.”