After nearly five months of silence, Malaysia has started communicating with Bangladesh, assuming that the World Bank might not provide fund for the much-hyped Padma bridge project.
Malaysia, the lone country that formally offered funding the project, did not reply to queries of the Bridges Division regarding inconsistencies in its proposal since September last year.
Kualala Lumpur submitted its “final proposal” on August 27 last year.
Officials of the Padma bridge project found various inconsistencies both in technical and financial aspects of the proposal, and repeatedly asked for clarifying those. They also sought closing the loopholes in the proposal.
In September, Malaysia repeatedly gave assurance of doing what was wanted but it did not. After that, the Bridges Division officials stopped contacting it and shelved the proposal.
The officials could not assess the proposal, especially financial quotations due to the inconsistencies. They were supposed to prepare a summary of the proposal and place it before the government high-ups for a decision.
“We are now communicating with each other and exchanging information regarding the proposal. It is a positive move but nothing has been finalised yet,” a senior official of the communications ministry said.
Asked, Communications Minister Obaidul Quader said, “Wait and see. Everything will be made clear by February.”
He also said there are now different options, and the government would pick the best one from those.
According to the Malaysia proposal, it wants to build the 6.15-kilometre bridge in three years on the basis of build, own, operate and transfer. It would manage traffic on the bridge for 35 years to recoup the investment and make profit before handing over it to Bangladesh.
The proposal quoted very high prices for construction of the main bridge and approach roads, and for river training. The proposed total cost of the project is almost double the amount ($2.9 billion) estimated by the Bangladesh government.
Implementation of the Padma bridge project has become uncertain amid allegations of corruption over it.