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Communications Ministry seeks help for holding talks with WB to expedite the tender process

Staff Correspondent: The Ministry of Communications has sought help of the Ministry of Finance to pursue the World Bank to give its approval to the provisional bidders for construction of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge.

Ministry officials say the process of inviting final tender is awaiting response from the WB, a major lender of the US$2.9 billion project.

Minister for Communications Syed Abul Hossain in a letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Tuesday requested him to hold talks with the WB on an urgent basis to expedite the tender process.

Under the conditions of loan negotiation, the government is supposed to follow the procurement guidelines of the WB, which is lending US$1.2 billion.

Samsung C&T, Corporation of South Korea, China major Bridge Engineering Company Ltd., Daelim-BAM-VCI, a joint venture entity of South Korea, Vinci-HCC, a joint venture of France, and India and China Communications Construction Company Ltd are in the list of eligible firms for participation in the final bidding.

They have been selected in the second attempt in last January as the WB insisted on the second tender in October 2010. The lender rejected the first tender, called in July 2010, and suggested the ministry to call a fresh tender.

The ministry officials said it (ministry) rejected a WB request to include China Railway Construction Company as a pre-qualified bidder.

The officials said the delay in the WB’s response might have been caused for dropping China Railway Construction Company from the list of pre-qualified bidders.

When contacted, an official of the WB in Dhaka said the lender had to check thoroughly if procurement rules have been followed in the process.

However, the minister for communications said his ministry repeatedly requested the WB to give its consent and sent the latest update on the progress of the project on May 18, 2011.

Abul Hossain expressed his apprehensions that vested quarters at home and aboard are out to cause delay in implementing the project although the present government wants to complete construction of the bridge before the expiry of its tenure in early 2014.

Apart from the WB, the Asian Development Bank has pledged to provide US$615 million, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) $400 million and Islamic Development Bank $130 million for construction of Padma Bridge.

The finance minister announced last year that the construction of the bridge would start in March 2011.

In his recent budget speech, Muhith said the construction work would start in next October.

Successive governments have long been trying to construct the bridge which will connect directly the country’s backward southern and south-western region with economic growth centres, especially the capital.

According to JICA, the commissioning of the bridge project will contribute an additional 1.2 percent to Bangladesh’s gross domestic product (GDP) a year.

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