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Rail over Padma Bridge still uncertain

18 Jun,2017

The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s promiseof running rail on the Padma Bridge from the first day of its inauguration remains uncertain as the government could not manage the funds so far.According to the Ministry of Railways sources, a total of Tk24,749cr of the project, among Tk34,988cr, was supposed to be donated by China government’s EXIM Bank. But the government could not make the deal with the bank yet, reports the Bangla Tribune.The government claimed to have finished 41% work of the bridge but the only visible progress was land acquisition which has been done by Bangladesh government’s own funding.Sources also said a three-member delegation team, including two members from Economic Relations Division (ERD) and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), led by Golam Fakhruddin, Project Director of Padma Multipurpose Bridge, visited China to sort out the issue. One team of EXIM Bank from China also visited Bangladesh. But the deal could not be finalised.Though the EXIM Bank of China promised to provide necessary investment in the beginning of the project, but later they offered to provide only 85% of the total cost. Bangladesh government agreed with their condition and requested to sign the contract within June 15 this year. But the Chinese bank did not respond to it.The government had allocated Tk102.13cr in Fiscal Year 2016-2017 to the Ministry of Railways but they returned the money afterfailing to use it. But in FY 2017-2018 the government has again allocated Tk7,906.81cr in this sector.Railway Minister Advocate Mujibul Haque told the Bangla Tribune: “The contract signing is being delayed but we are still hopeful that it will be signed soon and the project will be finished within the speculated time.”However, the Padma Bridge project is related to the eight mega projects of developing the transnational railway connectivity among the South Asian countries. The rail line will serve the South-West part of the nation.According to the Planning Ministry, the project includes 172-kilometre-long new rail line which will start from Kamlapur railway station and will be serving four sections – Dhaka-Gendaria, Gendaria-Mawa, Mawa-Bhanga junction via Padma Bridge and Bhanga-Jessore Bridge. The ministry has also added the project cost in FY2017-2018 budget. The project is scheduled to be finished by December 31, 2022.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed a MoU with China while visiting the country in June2014.Mustafa Kamal, minister for planning, told the Bangla Tribune: “Padma Bridge project is one of the eight mega projects undertaken by the government. The projectwill play a major role in boosting GDP once implemented.”

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