Padma bridge an unwieldy challenge: Experts
Experts feel it will never be easy to bridge the mighty Padma without World Bank funding, now that the Asian Development Bank has also backed off from funding the project.
The ruling Awami League will have to pay a 'political price' if it cannot execute the project, what with the parliament election barely a year away.
The Padma bridge project was one of its key electoral commitments. No wonder, the Hasina government is desperate to start work on the project with whatever resources it can manage.
While Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Saturday said that the government wanted to start the construction work within two months, economists and engineers alike doubt whether that will be possible.
Two years of uncertainty over World Bank funding came to an end on Thursday when the Bangladesh government formally withdrew its request to the World Bank for financing the country's biggest-ever infrastructure development project.
The World Bank in a media statement on Friday confirmed that it had received a letter from the government regarding the withdrawal of the funding request.
Out of the $2.9 billion required to build the 6.15-kilometre bridge along with railway track at current prices, the World Bank had committed $1.2 billion.
The Asian Development Bank which had committed $ 600 million backed out soon after.
The government says it will mobilize its own funds and look out for alternative sources of funding. Hints have been dropped about possible commitments from India, China and Malaysia.
While it is entirely possible that either of the two Asian giants, India or China, can mobilize the kind of funds that would be needed to fill in the void left by the World Bank and ADB's departure, there is no information that either of them have made any definite commitments. Nor is there any information... [continues]
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