7 months ago

Padma Bridge cost set to rise yet

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The cost of Padma Bridge is set to increase yet more at the fag-end of the project tenure due to unprecedented devaluation of local currency against US dollar and price escalation of construction materials over the contract price, project sources said.

They said the estimated fund for managing the contingencies during the project's defect liability period (DLP) has already been exhausted due to the high exchange rate of dollar and fuel price hike.

Though majority payments have already been made, they said, around 50 claims from two contractors and consultants are yet to be settled, which would increase the cost to some extent. They have even more claims to be submitted.

The Padma Bridge has already been opened for road traffic while implementation work of installation of rail tracks in the lower deck was progressing.

The project cost will not remain within Tk 301.93 billion as estimated in the development project proposal (DPP), the project insiders said. The cost has been revised up by three times from the initial estimate of Tk 101.61 billion.

When asked, Project Director M Shafiqul Islam said the actual cost hike cannot be assessed until settling down the claims, including VAT and tax at source, which were also increased from the rates stated in the contracts.

Audit of the project is still going on and all claims are being evaluated by the contract specialists, he added.

"It was thought a few months ago that the project cost would not increase further, but now the situation is different," he told the FE at his office.

If increased, the project cost will be revised for the fifth time since it was taken in 2007.

According to the official record, the bridge project has already paid Tk 279.9 billion to the contractors of main bridge, river training, approach roads, service areas and consultancy until June last.

Of the contract values, the project office paid Tk 120.48 billion to the main bridge contractor and Tk 79.54 billion to the RTW's contractors. The two contracts were signed at TK 121.33 billion and Tk 87.07 billion respectively.

Official sources said that though majority payments in both cases were made, the project office will have to pay the rest Tk 8.3 billion.

They said the dollar rate was mentioned at Tk 78.25 in the contract, which has increased to Tk 92 until June last. Majority payments were made at rates between Tk 81 and Tk 90.

Though the project was not affected by the rod's price, the hike in stones, fuel oils and cement prices may reflect in the total cost.

Sources said the project office may need to pay Tk 7.0-8.0 billion in VAT and tax at source due to an increase in tax rate to 15 per cent from 10.5 per cent at the time of contract. The consultancy rate was also increased to 35 per cent from 25 per cent.

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