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Padma Multipurpose Bridge suffers from surfeit of funds as work decelerates

Bridges Div seeks Tk 47.03b less in revised budget

| Updated: January 21, 2018 18:44:22

Padma bridge suffers from surfeit of funds as work decelerates

As construction work decelerates sharply, the Padma bridge needs 17 per cent or Tk 47.03 billion less money in the country's upcoming revised development budget, officials said.

The Bridges Division is learnt to have made the request for fund cutbacks as the executing agency for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) project faced with some problems in maintaining set pace of work.

In the original Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the current financial year (FY) 2017-18, the government had allocated Tk 55.24 billion as the annual quantum of cost of the 6.15-kilometre bridge over the mighty river.

The sources said Friday the project-executing agency -- Bangladesh Bridges Authority (BBA) -- encountered some setbacks in their piling works for establishing several piers.

And that resulted in slow progress in overall construction works of the bridge -- Bangladesh's largest -- being built over the river that is tough to be trained.

Officials said the BBA faced with hurdles in the piling works at some 21 piers out of 40 for the bridge-building work.

The deadline for implementing works of the Tk 287.93 billion Padma Bridge project is this coming December.

The Prime Minister and ministries concerned had earlier pledged that the government would open the much-cherished Padma Bridge for the people by December 2018.

Development experts and some government officials concerned think it could be difficult for the government to complete construction of the bridge within 2018 as the project work was not going well at the expected level.

The BBA under the Bridges Division had spent only 51 per cent or Tk 146.78 billion of the total Tk 287.93 billion worth of allocations until last December.

A senior Planning Commission (PC) official is in doubt about the completion on time, as such.

"The Bridge Division has only 11 months to complete the entire project work by the deadline. But it has spent only 51 per cent of the funds until last month, December. How they will be implementing the remaining huge work within the stipulated time," he said.

"If they want to complete the work by the deadline, the BBA needs to spend the rest 49 per cent of the money for completing the construction of the main bridge, river training, the building of approach roads and other related works," he told the FE.

According to the BBA, they had completed 53 per cent of the physical construction of the main bridge until December last calendar year.

The river-training works are on the worst-performing list as the BBA had completed only 34 per cent of the total until last month, December, the BBA official said.

The official said as per BBA's requirement, the PC had allocated Tk 55.24 billion in the original ADP of the current FY2018 for the Padma Bridge.

"However, it has now sacrificed some Tk 8.21 billion worth of funds as it cut its requirement for the upcoming revised Annual Development Programme (RADP) by 17 per cent or Tk 47.03 billion from the original Tk 55.24 billion in the current FY2018. The BBA has sought the lower funds amid its weak execution rate," he said.

"As per the budget-spending target, the BBA is supposed to spend nearly Tk80 billion in the last couple of years on average during the project cycle. It now seems to have gone in vain. So, how the Padma Bridge construction will complete by December 2018?" he questioned.

After some ups and downs -- following foreign donors' somersault over pledged funding -- the government got down to constructing the dream bridge in November 2014 with funds from nation's internal resources.

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