Monday, July 15, 2024

WB okays $1.2b for Padma bridge

The World Bank has approved $1.2 billion concessional credit for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project.
The much-expected approval was given at a board meeting of the bank, held Thursday at its headquarters in Washington DC, says a WB press release.
The project, with an estimated cost of $2.9 billion, is expected to unlock the economic potential of the southwest region.
“The construction of the bridge would fulfil the long-standing dream of the people of the southwest region to have a permanent crossing over the Padma River,” said Isabel Guerrero, WB South Asia vice president, while commenting on the project at the meeting.
“We have been working closely with the Government of Bangladesh on a Governance and Accountability Action Plan that ensures strict supervision to prevent fraud or corruption, and guarantees quality and transparency,” she added.
Ellen Goldstein, WB country director for Bangladesh, who was also present at the meeting, said “I have witnessed the tremendous support of local people for the bridge and believe it will have far reaching economic and social benefits, including faster growth, new jobs, enhanced connectivity and trade within the country and in the broader region, and improved protection against river bank erosion and floods.”
Earlier, Communication Minister Syed Abul Hossain told BSS the construction work of the main part of the bridge would begin as soon as the WB approves the fund.
He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself is monitoring the progress of the project as it has been given the highest priority for connecting a major part of the country.
A high official of the communication ministry told BSS that the construction work of the bridge would start in August this year with a target of finishing the main bridge within the tenure of this government.
Spanning the Padma River, the world’s third largest; the 6.1km long bridge will connect nearly 30 million people in the southwest region to the rest of country, enhancing their access to markets and services while accelerating growth in the country as a whole.
The bridge will reduce distances to Dhaka by about 100km while cutting travel times in half from most areas of the southwest region of the country.
Additionally, the bridge will enhance regional trade and collaboration along the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian railway network systems.
It will also connect the two major sea ports in Bangladesh, and the river training work will help control river erosion and flooding locally.
Given its size, complexity and expected impact on local communities, it includes state of the art safeguards and accountability features. Transparency has been emphasised throughout every step of its preparation and design.
Furthermore, the project will adhere fully to Bangladesh’s Right to Information Act and will include information sharing through the project website, social media, newsletters, and broadcasts on radio and television.
Accountability will also be strengthened through third party monitoring by an independent panel of experts, community-based ‘accountability meetings’ to review social and resettlement action plans and the appointment of an independent Project Integrity Advisor reporting directly to the prime minister.
The WB has already financed $60 million for environmental and social actions to ensure that the lives of families in the construction zone are better. The development of resettlement sites is underway to protect the land, homes, livelihoods and community assets of local residents.
The credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the WB’s concessional lending arm, has 40-year maturity, including a 10-year grace period; it carries a service charge of 0.75 percent.
Besides the WB, the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency are funding the project as co-financiers.

 

Courtesy of Bss/The Daily Star

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