The deadline for the much-anticipated Padma Bridge project has been pushed back to June 2022, hiked by one year from the previous completion date of June 2021; owing to the novel coronavirus pandemic and intense river erosion.
Therefore, the government's contract with the consultancy firm for the main bridge and river training has also been extended by 34 months, said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal Wednesday after the Cabinet Committee meeting on Government Purchase.
Mustafa Kamal said construction has been delayed for numerous reasons. The Covid-19-led situation and massive flooding are hindering construction of the main bridge and river training.
The meeting approved the proposal to extend the agreement with the bridge construction supervision consultant Korea Expressway Corporation from September 2020 to June 2022.
The delay will cost the government Tk348 crore more. However, as this was included in the main bridge construction cost beforehand, the main project cost will not go up, said the finance minister.
"When we set the 2021 deadline, no one could have imagined such a virus situation. Things were smooth. But the pandemic has impeded everything. We hope the construction will be completed by the new date," he added.
The previous completion date of June 2021 was the fourth deadline of the project involving a cost of Tk30,193 crore.
The overall progress of the main bridge was 89.25 percent as of last July, while the river training progress stood at 74 percent.
Barishal-Bhola bridge not given go-ahead
Construction of a nine-kilometre-long bridge under public-private partnership, connecting the island district of Bhola to Barishal, failed to get policy approval at Wednesday's meeting.
"It was not approved since the proposal lacked some papers, but it was not rejected either. The proposal, with the required documents, will get approval in the next week," said Mustafa Kamal.
The minister said the bridge will be jointly constructed with foreign private investments and government funding, and the construction cost will be realised from tolls.
Officials said the construction deadline for the Bhola-Barishal bridge has been set for 2025. Already some local and foreign companies including German, Japanese and Chinese firms have applied for its construction.
The cost of the 9.5-kilometre-long bridge on the Arial Khan, Kalabadar, Tetulia and Ilisha rivers, to Bhola, has been estimated around Tk11,000 crore.
Rooppur nuclear plant delayed "due to the Russians"
The finance minister said construction of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant has been delayed due to the Russians working on the project site.
The Cabinet Committee Meeting on Government Purchase Wednesday approved a Tk56 crore furniture and Tk27 crore home appliance purchase proposal for the Russian engineers at the site.
According to the nuclear plant agreement with Russia, Bangladesh will provide the Russian engineers with accommodation facilities, supplying the furniture and home appliances.
Kamal said the buildings for the Russians have already been constructed.
Additionally, the meeting approved printing and binding 18 crore textbooks for the 2021 academic year and purchasing 13,300 tonnes of printing paper and art paper.