DHAKA, June 18 2022 :
Bangladesh is set to witness inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the biggest structure built so far with domestic financing, which the country provided successfully despite enhanced costs caused by currency devaluation and project redesigning.
Financial analysts familiar with the mega project said the bridge eventually cost Taka 30,193 crore while the initial plan suggested it would be Taka 10,162 crore only.
“There are justified reasons for the cost hike,” a financial analyst of the Bridges Division told BSS referring to the issues of currency depreciation, bridge’s length extension and the inclusion of railway lines in the project alongside measures to facilitate ship movements.
The official preferred not to be named but provided a self-explanatory factsheet on the cost analysis of the project that suggest when the initial Development Project Proposal (DPP) in 2006 had lacked a detailed design of the proposed structure.
The document suggested the DPP was revised thrice while the first DPP estimated the main bridge length to be 5.58 kilometre while now became 6.15.
The qualified bidders who quoted the lowest rates showed the project would require and additional Taka 8,000 mainly for constructing the main bridge, connecting roads and river training.
The initial DPP had excluded the idea of installing the railway tracks while under that initial design ships could have moved only through three spans while they now could maneuver through 37 spans while the document also appeared to have lacked a detail engineering design.
One US dollar was equal to Taka 69.1 when the initial DPP was drafted while the amount stood at Taka 78 while the final plan was drafted.
In 2011, the DPP was first revised enhancing the project cost to Taka 20,500 crore when the bridge length was extended alongside the viaduct making the bridge a nearly 10-kilometre structure.
The second revised DPP in 2016 included the railway tracks allowing trains to carry “double stack containers”, meaning the railway bridge could take an extra load.
The DPP was required to be amended.
Again, the project’s DPP was formulated based on estimation. The rate of local currency against the US dollar remained the same (One US dollar equals to Taka 69.1) aiming to keep the bridge’s cost low.
In 2016, the DPP of the project was revised again determining the total cost Taka 28,793 crore (with special amendment – total cost Taka 30,193 crore) since additional 1.3 kilometre of river training work was incorporated in the project and local currency was depreciated against the US dollar.
Local currency exchange rate against one US dollar increased to Taka 78 from Taka 69. Both the cost and amount for land acquisition increased. Initially, it was determined to acquire 1,124.7 hectares of land for the project costing Taka 944.72 crore. But, in the revised DPP, it was selected to acquire 2,693.2 hectares of land with estimate cost of 1,612 crore.
Extra cost was also added to the project for shifting ferry ghats.
Instead of the cost of the project estimated in the first DPP, the cost of the project found through open bidding was included to the final DPP (additional Taka 8,000 was added to the revised DPP for construction of main bridge, river training and road connection).
The project also incurred extra cost for hiring safety team and procuring vehicles on security purposes, said the official document.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the long-cherished Padma Bridge on June 25./(BSS)
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