Padma Bridge Project
Malaysia submits concept proposal
The government intends to sign the final agreement with Malaysia within a couple of months on the proposed Padma bridge project, said the communications minister yesterday after his meeting with a visiting delegation.
A 26-member delegation, led by Malaysian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Dato Seri S Samy Vellu, placed a concept proposal on the project to Communications Minister Obaidul Quader at the Bridges Division in the capital.
Repeatedly pressed by journalists for some specific aspects of the proposal, Quader said, “I do not want to disclose specifics of primary proposal right now, we will disclose those after final deal.”
In reply to queries, the minister said they would go back to the World Bank (WB) only if it “assures funding within the government’s tenure”, adding that Bangladesh so far signed only an MoU with Malaysia.
“But we cannot wait for years for the World Bank funding, as we have political pledge to meet,” he said. “They [World Bank] may have allegations against one or two high officials but they cannot punish the people of Bangladesh.”
Quader also said the government’s agreement with the WB expired automatically in January, but the Bank voluntarily extended it for six months.
The WB suspended its funding process for the much-cherished project last September alleging corruption against the then communications minister, Syed Abul Hossain.
Quader told journalists that the government would examine Malaysia’s brief outlines in the proposal for a month and hold negotiations to sort out mutual benefits.
Then a ground-breaking ceremony will follow possibly in presence of the prime ministers of both the countries to launch the project work formally, said the minister.
In January, Malaysia formally proposed a $2.19-billion loan for the bridge project.
The visiting Malaysian delegation includes Dubai-based financial company Capital Trust Group and a team of technical experts. Malaysian High Commissioner to Dhaka Jamaluddin bin Sabeh accompanied them.
Bridges Division Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam and Shafiqul Islam, project director of the Padma Multi-purpose Bridge Project, were present at the press briefing.
An expert team of the delegation is scheduled to visit the project site at Mawa and Zajira today.
-With The Daily Star input