Changes in design push up Lebukhali bridge project cost

Munima Sultana | Published: September 03, 2018 09:58:51 | Updated: September 04, 2018 14:38:48

Nine years have elapsed, but the Lebukhali Bridge is yet to take shape due to a faulty design and rising project cost.

The project has made only 30 per cent progress as of August 2018 due to design-related complications, according to an official record.

The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) undertook the project in 2009. It is due for completion in 2020.

Sources said the design of the 1.47-kilometre bridge has been revised radically two years after the start of its construction.

This change in the design is because of different soil layers present under the Payra river, they added.

"The problem is similar to the Padma Bridge project as its [Padma Bride] design also didn't match during the construction period due to different soil layers," said an official.

Sources said the failure in design confirmation led the Lebukhali Bridge project office to change the design of piling both in depth and width.

For this, the building cost is set to rise for the second time, they added.

The RHD, the executing agency of the Tk 12.12-billion project, is now estimating the revised cost for the changes.

According to the changes, the diameter of each pile would be 2.5 metres with a depth of 130 metres.

Sources said earlier the project's Indian design consultant proposed the piles of the bridge with 3.5-metre diameter and 90-metre depth.

The bridge aims to establish a direct link between the capital and southern region.

The development project proposal was approved in 2012 after completing a feasibility study.

The RHD initially estimated the project at Tk 4.57 billion on Barisal-Patuakhali highway.

But in 2015, the project cost was first revised after the lowest bidder's proposal was found almost double than the estimated cost.

A Chinese company, Longjian Road and Bridge Company Ltd, was awarded the work with Tk 8.6 billion which started the work in the first half of 2016.

Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) and OPEC Fund for International Development are the financiers of the project.

The bridge is expected to make the Dhaka-Mawa-Faridpur-Barisal-Patuakhali highway free from ferry service.

It will also boost tourism and accelerate trade activities with the southern region by establishing a direct link with Kuakata and Payra port.

Project Director Noor-e-Alam said as the design is already confirmed, they expect to meet the work deadline.

He said 900-metre viaducts have already been completed.

About increased fund management from development partners, Mr Alam said the cost is unlikely to increase much due to a "slight" change in the design.

The RHD expects to get the funds from the government exchequer to avoid complications in getting foreign funds to cover the yawning cost gap.


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