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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Monday, January 28, 2013
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Fresh design in 6 months

PM vows to start construction of Padma Bridge within govt's tenure

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government would start constructing the Padma bridge in its tenure even if the World Bank fund was not available.

"We've already asked the Bangladesh Army, Buet and Bridges Division to complete within six months a fresh design for the bridge,” Hasina said during a meeting of Awami League Parliamentary Party at the Jatiya Sangsad.

The construction would begin once the designing was done, meeting sources quoted her as saying.

The World Bank cancelled its $1.2 billion credit for the $2.9 billion project on June 29 last year, saying it had credible evidence of corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and some individuals.

The global lender maintains it will finance the project if former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain is included on the list of accused in the case filed over the corruption conspiracy.

At yesterday's meeting, the PM said when Abul Hossain was the communications minister, the local agent of Canadian firm SNC Lavalin met him.

Abul Hasan Chowdhury, former state minister for foreign affairs, was the local agent.

If it was corruption, Hasina said, it was the ex-state minister who should be held responsible.

Both Hasan and Hossain would be arrested if probe found something against them, AL MP Sadhan Chandra Majumder quoted Hasina as saying.

Earlier, the prime minister had said the government would look for alternative sources of funding if the World Bank did not give a decision by this month.

Hasina, also ruling Awami League chief, told her party deputies at the meeting that her government would get grants of $200 million and it had also received proposals from China and Malaysia, said AL MP Shahiduzzaman Sarker.

A source has told The Daily Star that $200m of $1 billion line of credit from India has been converted into grant. The government might use the money for Padma bridge construction.

About the next parliamentary election, the PM said it must be held by January 25 next year.

She reiterated the next parliamentary polls would be held the way other democratic countries arrange their national polls. He mentioned instances of elections in the US and the UK, said AL MP Israfil Alam.

Hasina also lauded the formation and functions of the current Election Commission, Israfil said, adding that she also urged the party lawmakers to make public the government's success stories.

About the upazila elections, she said polls to this local government bodies would be held after the parliamentary polls.

Warning her party MPs, Hasina said she had all the information about what lawmakers were doing in their areas. “MPs with bad records will not get nominations for the next polls."

She added, "We won't allow any questionable election. If any of my MPs tries to interfere, the election in that area will be stopped."

Sheikh Hasina asked the lawmakers to campaign drumming up public support for the ongoing war crimes trial .

A number of AL lawmakers, including Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta and Abdul Latif Siddiqui, urged the AL chief to take measures strengthening the party network across the country.

They said development activities are not enough to win the polls, meeting sources said.

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She must do it because she needs to inaugurate it and put her name to remain immortal in bridge construction for Bangladesh.

: Kajal

The verbosity of the government is simply exasperating. People understand this government's involvement in wrongdoing and dishonesty in the multi- billion dollar Padma Bridge Project. Patriots like Abul and Mashiur have become far more precious least they leak out sensitive information leading to high-ups in the political ladder. God knows when the epic surrounding the sorrow of Padma will be completed?

: Reaz Hassan


  • Concerned
    Monday, January 28, 2013 02:01 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    New design raises the fear that it will be hurried to reduce cost and time, and as a result the design, aesthetics and utility may suffer seriously. These issues can never be compromised. We shall ensure the long term nation's interests.

  • Yamin U.K.
    Monday, January 28, 2013 02:14 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    We had enough of mud slinging over this Padma bridge issue. Let this be not a prestige issue for the PM and nation is overburdened with further debts. Time heals. WB will eventually give in provided we act sensibly and not try to justify our wrong doings. Already billion dollar ARMS DEAL was imposed on us and our heads are reeling. It seems our PM is extremely worried and her mind is occupied about the next election, nothing else but still she has a year in hand. Please look at the markets and think about the commoners. Please concentrate on law and order situation. Remove poverty, people will automatically vote you to power again. But do not frighten us by repeating your firm stand that this election will be under your premiership. Please respect democracy.

  • Barkat
    Monday, January 28, 2013 02:20 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    If Bangladesh Army, Buet and Bridges Division (tainted with corruption) are capable of building such a mega project than why did AL wasted four years with WB, which bought disgrace to Bangladesh and its people. What a childish comment Hasina is making. It seems she think the entire nation is of fools and she can make everyone fool every time. Next she or her intelligent Finance Minister will say that finance for Padma Bridge will be managed by Sonali, Rupali and Krishi Bank. Bangladeshi is prepared for it. It is better if the scare resource of this poor nation is not wasted in disaster just to make the bridge for name sake in this AL term.

  • Labu Khan
    Monday, January 28, 2013 02:33 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    One wonders how the PM vows to start construction of Padma Bridge within this govt's tenure, when the design and funding is still uncertain.

  • fedup-hopelessly
    Monday, January 28, 2013 04:03 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    With due respect to the prime minister of Bangladesh, one would urge her not to equate the WB with that of Bangladesh and the position of the prime minister. The damage in politics is already done. Therefore, it is now better to work for a new plan instead of making any more remark on the bridge in the media. Better done than talking. Please do not swallow another bitter pill from Malaysia. Take time and proceed with practical time table and new plan. The Malaysia plan is a creation of another 'Abul Hossain' and destined to fail by any scrutiny including the media and technical people in Bangladesh. Please ask your Finance Minister not to cross the decency limit of his position and advice the Country Director of the WB to look for profession in politics in Bangladesh. The minister is way from the truth and sounds extremely desperate to justify his own failure to foresee the problem.

  • Roni Rahman
    Monday, January 28, 2013 04:31 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    One may have serious doubt about the quality of a fresh bridge design by the Army? After all, what is the goal of building Padma bridge (with people's money)? Is it to serve the people for the next 100 years? Or is it to serve AL political interest for the next 12 months? Should the govt be allowed to short change and betray the people like this?

  • Jumana Sarwar
    Monday, January 28, 2013 04:33 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    If in the future, we fail to investigate the Padma bridge project corruption case and hold the persons responsible accountable, we as a nation will remain hostage to the so-called patriots.

  • Asad Zaman
    Monday, January 28, 2013 05:46 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    I have great confidence in the talent, expertise and abilities of people of the Buet, Bridges Division and the Bangladesh Army. I have also trust in PM; and she is confident to start constructing the bridge even if the WB fails to provide the fund in time. The PM seems to be quite wise to anticipate or understand the uncertainty of the WB fund for the Padma Bridge at this time. The global lender seems to be unclear and indecisive about the funding at this stage; it is rather more active, spending more time and resource -- not to start the construction work of the bridge but rather -- to see the former minister Abul Hossain is included on the list of accused in the corruption conspiracy case. In this circumstances, the PM’s decision to start the construction work of the bridge as early as possible with alternative funding is pragmatically wise.

  • Haq
    Monday, January 28, 2013 08:10 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Madam Prime Minister, thanks for this initiative. But the stink of a corruption allegation will remain!

  • Shibesh Kirttania
    Monday, January 28, 2013 04:02 PM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Is it right to speak of alternative source of fund for the Padma bridge before WB's final decision? We all know that without WB funding it is very difficult to arrange for the required fund. Then why is this early rhetoric which may hurt WB?





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