A leading state-owned construction company of China has submitted its 'Letter of Interest' to build what will be the longest ever bridge of the country to connect Bhola with Barisal.
The government has initiated a US$ 3.0-billion bridge construction project to connect the island district of Bhola, surrounded by river and sea, with the mainland.
The name of the project is 'Construction of Bhola Bridge on Barisal Bhola Road over the rivers Tetulia and Kalabador.'
Once built, the 9.2-kilometre bridge will dwarf the one being built over the Padma River.
In a letter to the Bridge Division recently, the Chinese company named China Gezhouba Group Company Ltd (CGGC) said, "We learned of the project (Bhola Bridge) and understand that you are looking for fund amounting to about USD 1226.85 million from the Chinese government or the EXIM Bank of China."
As an international EPC contractor, "We have sufficient experience to assist our local partners to utilise the China EXIM Bank loan from our government for undertaking various contracts such as energy and power development, construction of roads and bridges, railways and all kinds of housing and infrastructure work."
When contacted, senior secretary of the bridges division Khandker Anwarul Islam on Sunday said, "The feasibility study of the bridge project is nearing completion."
"We will take the next step after the funding is ensured. We have approached several development partners for funding," he told the FE.
In its letter, the company further said, "We are pleased to submit hereby our letter of interest for undertaking the Bhola Bridge project under possible loan or credit from China with favourable terms and conditions."
"We shall send a team of experts to Bangladesh in order to discuss with relevant authorities on technical and commercial issues," said the letter signed by Xin Zongyi, vice president of the company. About the Chinese company's proposal, Mr Islam said the Economic Relations Division (ERD) will take step in this regard.
When contacted, a senior official of the ERD, preferring anonymity, told the FE that they are expecting similar proposals from other companies.
"This is too early to comment on this proposal right now" he added.
According to the plan, a 7.58-kilometre bridge starting from Barishal would end on a shoal on the Tetulia River and from the shoal another 1.64-km approach bridge would be constructed to reach Bhola.
The feasibility study to build the proposed bridges over the Tetulia and the Kalabadar rivers began in 2017.
India's STUP Consultant Private Limited, UK's COWI Consulting, and Bangladesh's Development Design Consultants Ltd, DevConsultants Limited got the Tk 563.50 million study contract.
The ERD has sent letters to Agence Française de Development (AFD) of France, Japan government, and the ADB respectively on January 2, February 9 and February 10 of this year seeking funds.