Multiple foreign consultancy stakes in Padma Bridge

Firms of UK, Japan, India, Korea, Netherlands, Colombia, Australia, NZ contribute as China

MUNIMA SULTANA | Thursday, 23 June 2022

At least 10 foreign consultancies from countries across the world provided supports as Chinese engineers built Bangladesh's longest bridge over the mighty river Padma, officials say ahead of its grand opening.

The consultancy firms are from the United Kingdom, Japan, India, South Korea, the Netherlands, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand. The participatory stakes in the engineering wonder work extend further as the firms hired sub-contracts from other countries.

Furthermore, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project received support of two Japanese experts and one expert each from Denmark and Belgium during the project tenure.

The officials mention that due to complex nature of the project out of its total Tk 301.93 billion cost, Tk 6.0 billion has been spent on consultancy services ranging from pre-feasibility study to design finalization and checking.

They say the project had also to look for their expertise assistance in resolving various critical problems like design fault due to finding soil-level difference in the middle of the 6.15-kilometre length of the bridge.

Sources say more foreign nationals of 20 countries have also been engaged with the Padma Bridge project under the consultancy firms and contractors.

Though they all played role in making the two-tier steel-truss bridge over the turbulent river-which had bifurcated Bangladesh's landmass down the middle--at least 10 Bangladesh consulting firms and 10 other experts also contributed to realizing the dream many people had foretold far-fetched.

According to PMB project information, Rendel Palmer and Tritton (RPT) and Medco of the UK and the Netherlands carried out the pre-feasibility study of the bridge in 1998-99. The firm was also the consultant for the 4.98-km Jamuna Bridge which was inaugurated in 1998.

The joint-venture RPT was appointed again as the management-support consultant mainly to support the project director in taking decision.

Nippon KOEI of Japan conducted the feasibility study and proposed the Mawa- Janjira line for the bridge. Maunsell AECOM Ltd, a joint venture of Australia and New Zealand, was appointed design consultant. NHC, SMEC, ACE Consultants Ltd and AAS Jakobssen assisted them.

However, sources say, an Indian company named STUP Consultant did a study on making the bridge in 2009-2010.

The PMB project appointed Flint of British and Neil Limited of UK as checking consultant which confirmed the design of the Padma Bridge to be 6.15km with road on top and rail below.

Korean Expressway Company worked as the construction-supervision consultant in the project, mainly supervising the project's Chinese contractors in main bridge construction and river-training works.

Project Director M Shafiqul Islam says all the consultants have played their due roles in the project implementation.

"Whatever critical issues had arisen, discussion was held among the consultants and panel of experts (PoEs) to resolve that," he adds.

The PMB project has 10-member PoE of which six were national and four others foreign. Dr Kenji Ishihara and Dr Yozo Fujino of Japan are the PoE members as geotechnical engineering and bridge-engineering experts. Klaus H Ostenfeld was the structural engineering expert from Denmark and Fortunato Carvajal Monar in river engineering from Colombia.

Bangladeshi consultant ACE Consultants and other firms also worked in the project while Special Works Organisation supported consultancy as the construction supervision of approach road along with Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

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