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M'sia-Korea joint venture offer for Bangladesh bridge soon

Publication Date : 06-08-2012


Malaysia considers appointing an inexperienced company as the concessionaire of Padma bridge project - Bangladesh's largest infrastructure project - and will soon send the final proposal in this regard to Bangladesh, communications ministry sources in Dhaka said yesterday.

Malaysian group Axisjaya has built military camps and houses in that country, according to its website that has no mention of bridge construction on the list of project gallery.

But the company would be assigned to build the Padma bridge in joint venture with Korean Samsung, one of the five technically pre-qualified for the main bridge construction.

A Malaysian technical committee hinted about the joint venture during a meeting with Bridge Division officials at Setu Bhaban yesterday. Technical bodies of the two countries there discussed issues including the design.

They are expected to sit again today.

At the meet, Bridge Division officials wanted to know from Malaysian side about the firm to be engaged in the bridge construction and from where the cost will be managed.

“They told us everything will be described in the final proposal,” Shafiqul Islam, director of Padma bridge project, told The Daily Star last night.

Communications Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday said Malaysia will submit the final proposal in three weeks.

He made the announcement after a meeting with another Malaysian team at the Secretariat. S Samy Velu, Malaysian prime minister's special envoy to India and South Asia, led the six-member delegation.

The Malaysians also submitted to the minister a proposal on concession agreement for the construction of 6.15-kilometre rail-road bridge. The proposal includes time and cost of the bridge construction and how the cost will be recovered, sources said.

“On technical grounds, we cannot disclose the details [of the meeting] before the final proposal submission,” Quader said. “We have got to calculate many things.”

He said Bangladesh and Malaysia have been in talks on the project financing since January.

“Today's meeting and the concession proposal are part of the process,” said the minister, adding that the two technical committees will examine everything about the Malaysian offer.

Terming the Padma bridge a dream project for the government, Quader said Bangladesh did not accept or cancel anything yet.

He said anyone can come up with a proposal, but nothing will be done compromising interests of the country and its people.

Before signing of the agreement, the draft of the final proposal will be sent to the law ministry for scrutiny and then to the cabinet, the minister said, adding that there might even be a consortium comprising local and foreign donors.

Asked when the construction might start, he said Malaysia expressed their interest to start the work this year.

The head of Malaysian delegation will meet Quader again this afternoon.

Emerging from the meeting with the communications minister, the team held a half-an-hour discussion with Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith at the Secretariat.

But both the minister and the Malaysian team leader declined to make any comments when the meeting ended around 1:30pm.

Malaysia in January formally proposed to finance the project and on April 11, Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the bridge construction.

The government had signed a US$1.2 billion loan agreement with the World Bank to construct the bridge. Besides, the Asian Development Bank was to provide $615 million, Japan International Cooperation Agency $400 million and Islamic Development Bank $140 million more for the scheme.

But the project stalled in October last year when the lead financier WB brought allegation of corruption in the bidding process. The WB finally on June 29 cancelled its loan pledge for the $2.9 billion project.

Amid uncertainty over its implementation, several countries showed interest to fund the construction of long-cherished Padma bridge.


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