The Bridges Division has asked for two more years to implement the Padma Bridge project, which is due to be completed in June this year.
A proposal to extend the project time till June 2023, without increasing the cost, has been sent to the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Department (IMED) of the Ministry of Planning.
In a letter to the IMED, the Bridges Division said the project is taking extra time because the absence of foreign consultants and Chinese contractors amid Covid-19 and the breakdown at the construction yard by heavy rains last year slowed down the pace of the project work.
The letter further reads the work is expected to be completed by June next year considering the current pace of the project and unfinished work. However, as per the conditions, the contractors have asked for one more year for maintaining the main bridge and paying bills.
The cost of the project, which started in July 2007, was estimated at Tk10.168 crore, which has been estimated at Tk30,193 crore in the latest amendment.
The project has so far spent Tk24,389 crore or 80.77% of the allocation and the Bridges Division has asked for time to work worth Tk5,904 crore.
IMED approved the latest extension of the project in 2019 on condition of not extending project time.
Asked about the new proposal, IMED Secretary Pradeep Ranjan Chakraborty said the a proposal to extend the Padma Bridge project has been received and is being scrutinised. A decision will be taken after a detailed review.
According to the letter, 83% of the physical work of the Padma Bridge project has been completed. The rest of the work is expected to be completed by June next year. The period needs to be extended till 30 June 2023 with one more year defect notification period.
Bridges Division Secretary Belayet Hossain told The Business Standard the work on the Padma bridge would have been completed by June this year if Covid-19 had not started.
Many foreigners have returned to their countries because of the pandemic and those who are staying here are reluctant to join the work. The pace of work has slowed down while maintaining social distance.
He hopes all the work will be completed within one year. If all goes well, the bridge will be ready for inauguration by June next year.
He added that 125 railway slabs and 192 railway stringers had gone into the riverbed last year due to breakdown at Mawa Construction Yard. For all these reasons extra time is required.
Although the Padma Bridge project was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in 2008, the work began in 2015 with self-funding due to financial constraints with donor agencies.
The first span of the bridge was installed on 30 September 2016. The 6.15-km-bridge became visible in December last year after the 41st span was installed.