10 months ago

Padma Bridge project: Cost set to rise 8.88pc, work to take one more year

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The government is set to revise the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) project with both cost escalation and time extension.

Officials said the third revised development project proposal (DPP) would seek a cost hike by 8.88 per cent to Tk 328.75 billion and time extension by one more year. The DPP is likely to be placed at the pre-ECNEC meeting next week.

Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) has already sent the proposal to the Bridge Division for placing it in the next PEC meeting under the Planning Commission.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader signed the revised DPP. It was earlier sent back by the Planning Commission in November last year, said an official.

Official sources said the project cost has been increased by Tk 26.82 billion due to high price of dollar, price escalation of materials and increased payment of VAT and taxes.

Around Tk 7.0 billion will be required for adjustment of the increased dollar rate from the DPP-set rate of Tk 78.3 a dollar.

They said both VAT and tax increased to 15 per cent from 10.5 per cent set in the contracts of the project's two Chinese contractors of main bridge construction and river training work (RTW).

They also said that the project tenure, which is supposed to end by June this year, is also proposed to be extended until June 2024 to keep defect liability period for the RTW as the work is unlikely to end before June next.

"The defect liability period is needed for the river training work, not for the entire project. The defect liability period of the main bridge work will end in June next," Project Director M Shafiqul Islam told the FE at his office on Thursday.

According to the progress report, despite the 6.15 kilometre main bridge being opened for traffic six months before, the construction work progress is recorded at 99.77 per cent and RTW 96.25 per cent.

Overall progress is recorded at 95.8 per cent as more work needs to be done on the bridge's rail section after completion by the Bangladesh Railway, and addressing issues related to resettlement and environment. The financial progress was 93.68 per cent.

The PD said Tk 4.0 billion in additional funds will be needed for the power transmission work as it was not included in the first two DPP revisions.

"Only a proposal to establish a 400 KV power transmission line was in the first DPP, but we did not have its details at that time. So we have to select a consultant and carry out detailed design work later to get the actual cost,' he said, explaining the reasons for the cost hike at the fag end of the project.

The revised cost is set to accommodate some equipment for operation and maintenance (O&M) work of the country's longest bridge.

Though the O&M work has been awarded to Chinese and Korean companies at a cost of Tk 6.93 billion, the PMB office has also kept Tk 3.0 billion in additional funds for buying equipment for the companies.

The project office has kept an additional Tk 8.0 billion for the RTW as its scope of work has also been increased due to experiencing river erosion and scours as well as shifting of ferry ghats several times.

It is also learnt that around 50 claims are placed to the project office by the two Chinese contractors and consultants. The consultancy rate was also increased to 35 per cent from 25 per cent.

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