Govt to realise cost of Padma Bridge in 35 years

The government is framing strategies on how to realise the money of Taka 30,193.39 crore being spent for constructing the Padma Bridge.
In a recent meeting the government decided to realise the total cost of the bridge by installing toll booths and raise the equivalent of the total cost of the construction of the bridge in 35-years.

The Bridges Division will repay the cost of the bridge, being constructed with the government’s own financing, to the Finance Division starting from 2021-22 fiscal. Toll money will be the main source of repayment for realising the construction cost of the bridge. Senior secretary to the Bridges Division Khandker Anwarul Islam told Bangladesh Post, “Recently we have signed an agreement with the finance division to repay the construction cost amount of Padma Bridge. The Bridge Division authority will pay back the amount as per the agreement.”

According to a source, it was learnt that the authority concerned is trying to fix the amount of toll for different types of vehicles. The matter got more importance when Finance Division and Bangladesh Bridge Authority signed an agreement on the payment of the loan of the Padma Bridge on August 29.

Noted economist Professor Abul Barakat also head of Economics Department of University of Dhaka told Bangladesh, “To enhance toll collection we have to focus on massive industrialisation. If we have more industries then we can collect more toll and so the collection rate would naturally increase at much faster pace.”

Notable, the government provided loan of Tk 30,193 crore to implement the project. The bridge authority will repay the amount with an interest of one percent. As per the loan schedule, the authority will pay between least Tk 826 crore and highest Tk 1475 crore each fiscal. After 15 years of vehicle movement, the authority will increase the toll amount to 10 percent.

The amount is supposed to be less than the present amount, as in the beginning, the finance division wanted to get the construction amount in 45 years, but later the authority reduced it to 10 years. Once the bridge is opened for traffic movement, it will take only 10 minutes to cross the bridge on average. The toll amount for different types of vehicles is; for motorcycle Tk 105, jeep or light vehicle Tk 750, mini bus (less than 29 seats) Tk 2025, larger bus (more than 30 seats) Tk 2370, mini truck (five ton) Tk 1620, medium truck (eight ton) Tk 2100, big truck (more than eight ton) Tk 2775, microbus Tk 1290, trailer (up to four axle) is Tk 4000, additional Tk 1500 charge will be added if trailer exceeds four axle.

Dr Selim Raihan, a noted economist who is also Executive Director of South Asian Network on Economic Modelling told Bangladesh Post, “The toll fixed by the government has to be realistic otherwise the people using the bridge would be discouraged from using the bridge.” He also said that to realise the toll at faster rates the government must promote massive industrialisation to allow lorries and other associated vehicles to cross the bridge and hence pay more amount of tolls.”

The 6.15-kilometre Padma Bridge, a multipurpose road-rail bridge across the Padma River, is Bangladesh’s largest infrastructure project till date of which 83 percent of the bridge’s main work has already been completed. The Bridge will connect Louhajong, Munshiganj to Shariatpur and Madaripur, linking the south-west of the country, to northern and eastern regions. Padma Bridge is the most challenging construction project in the history of Bangladesh.

According to project information, out of the 42 piers, the work of 31 piers has already been completed. The work on the rest 11 piers is now going on in full swing. Some 15 spans have been installed at Mawa site and the work on the main structure of the Bridge will be completed within 2020.

Around 2100 metres of the bridge is now visible as the 14th span (superstructure) of the 6.15-km bridge was installed at Jazira point in Shariatpur in June. A total of 41 spans will be installed on 42 concrete pillars to complete the bridge.

On October 14, 2018, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina unveiled the name plaque of Padma Bridge Toll Plaza at the Mawa end. According to experts, the national economy is expected to witness 1.2 percent GDP growth rate, while 0.84 percent poverty will be reduced every year after completion of the construction of the bridge at a cost of Taka 30,193.39 crore.

The first span of the Padma Bridge was installed on September 30, 2017. The second span was installed four months later on January 28, 2018 while the third one was placed on March 11, after one and a half months.