27.11.2010 Feature Article

ADB support for bridge over Padma River

ADB support for bridge over  Padma River
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Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to extend financial assistance of $615

million for a major bridge project in Bangladesh. The initiative is taken with

an aim to 'accelerate growth and poverty reduction in the country's poor and

underdeveloped southwest', stated in a press release from Manila, the head

office of ADB.
“ADB's Board of Directors today (25 November 2010) approved the loan funds for

the construction of a multipurpose bridge across the Padma River - the first

fixed river crossing for road traffic, linking the southwest of the country, to

northern and eastern regions,” added in the release.

The Bangladesh Bridge Authority is the executing agency for the project, which

is due for completion in December 2015.
ADB is providing over 21% of the total investment cost of nearly $2.92 billion

for the bridge project. In addition to ADB, the World Bank, Japan International

Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Islamic Development Bank are also contributing as

cofinanciers. "By providing a vital infrastructure link between the capital

city, Dhaka, and the less developed southwest region, the Padma bridge will give

the national economy a major boost," said Sultan H. Rahman, Director General of

ADB's South Asia Department.
"It is the largest project assistance we have provided to Bangladesh.

Implementing such a large project will be a major challenge, and the Government

and development partners would need to work very closely to initiate and

complete the project on time," added Mr. Rahman.
The southwest has some of the highest poverty rates in Bangladesh and the

absence of a bridge across the Padma River - formed by the confluence of the

Ganges and Jamuna rivers - has left it relatively isolated. Currently passengers

and freight are transported over the 5-kilometer wide river on ferries and other

smaller vessels, which lack capacity and are frequently suspended during floods,

fog and other bad weather conditions. Bridges in other regions, such as one

built with ADB-JICA-WB support across the Jamuna River linking the northwest to

the east, have been major growth and poverty reduction drivers for the country,

and similar benefits in the southwest region are expected with this project.

"This bridge project will also have wider subregional impacts, as it will form

part of the proposed Asian Highway route that connects Asia to Europe," said

Hideaki Iwasaki, Principal Transport Specialist in ADB's South Asia Department.

The physical work will include the construction of a two-level steel truss

bridge over six kilometers long, with a four lane highway to accommodate road

vehicles on top, and a lower deck with a single track railway to be added in

future. Twelve kilometers of approach roads, along with toll plazas and service

areas will also be built, while dredging and river bank protection will be

carried out.
ADB's assistance will be extended through two loans. The first amount of $539

million from ADB's ordinary capital resources has a 27-year tenor, with a 7-year

grace period, and an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB's

LIBOR-based lending facility. The second loan of $76 million equivalent from

ADB's concessional Asian Development Fund has a 32-year tenor, with an 8-year

grace period carrying an annual interest of 1%, which rises to 1.5% for the

balance of the term.

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