Sunday, September 19

Bangladesh offers RM6 billion bridge project to Malaysia

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KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian company has expressed interest in undertaking the RM6 billion Padma Multipurpose Bridge in Bangladesh, possibly through a joint venture with a foreign partner, said Malaysia’s Special Envoy, Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu.

Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu

Without naming the company, Samy Vellu said he had preliminary discussions with the company recently, after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered the single largest project to Malaysia.

“We are at present studying the feasibility report of the project prepared by consultants appointed by the Bangladesh government,” the former Works Minister told reporters here yesterday.

Samy Vellu, who last week concluded a four-day working visit to Bangladesh, which saw Kuala Lumpur signing a deal with Dhaka to implement RM10 billion worth of infrastructure projects, said a study would be undertaken to redesign the bridge to lower the construction cost which was agreed to by Sheikh Hasina.

“I had informed the (Bangladesh) Prime Minister that we need to relook the design. We propose to appoint a consultant to re-design the bridge,” he added.

Samy Vellu was appointed the Special Envoy (Infrastructure) to India and South Asia with Ministerial rank last January.

He said the returns from the bridge investment would be derived from toll collection and did not discount the possibility of Malaysia signing a longer concession agreement with the Bangladesh authorities.

The Padma Bridge project was a priority project of the government of Sheikh Hasina to connect Bangladesh’s southern region with the rest of the country.

It was estimated that the bridge would add two per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

It was reported that the Padma Bridge project ran into difficulty, when donor agencies led by the World Bank suspended funding for it because of alleged corruption, a charge the Bangladesh government rejected outright.

The 6.15km bridge with 3.68km of land-based approach viaducts on both sides of a river would connect 19 south-western districts and the capital, enhancing access to markets, improving services and accelerating growth.

The bridge would also reduce the distance to Dhaka by about 100km and halve travel times from most areas in the southwest.

Moreover, the bridge would enhance regional trade, by linking with the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian railway network systems. It would also connect the two major seaports in Bangladesh. — Bernama