Communication Minister Obaidul Quader on Friday said Malaysia, China and India are interested in bridging the Padma, hours after Bangladesh formally withdrew its bid to secure World Bank funding for the $2.9-billion bridge.
“The funding will be confirmed within this month (February) … work will begin in this very term (of the government),” he added.
The minister added, “Bridging the Padma with own funds is still not ruled out.”
Quader was visiting the Dhaka-Mymensingh four-line project in Sreepur of Gazipur in the morning.
On Friday morning, a press release from the World Bank said Bangladesh had written to the Washington-based lending agency on Thursday withdrawing its request for co-financing of the project.
However, the press release also said Bangladesh intended to pursue probe into the alleged graft in the project.
Quader had discussed financing options with Malaysia last year. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed.
Upon word from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, efforts for self-financing of the Padma bridge construction work began last year, and two bank accounts were opened for the people to give their contribution.
On Friday morning, Finance Minister AMA Muhith confirmed that Bangladesh would go ahead with the biggest infrastructure project with own resources, if necessary.
The World Bank was to lend a part of the requirement – $1.2 billion, besides the Asian Development Bank ($610 million), Japan’s JICA ($400 million) and the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank ($140 million).
The Washington-based lending agency halted its assistance in Sep 2011 after bribery charges surfaced against Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin.
The World Bank cancelled its loan in Jun 2012 amidst talks of an insincere probe by the Anti-Corruption Commission. However, later they returned upon efforts from the government, though conditionally.
According to the global lender’s terms, a three-member panel headed by a former International Crimes Court Prosecutor Luis Gabriel Moreno Ocampo visited Dhaka twice to oversee ACC’s probe.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Jan 23 spoke of ‘alternatives’ to financing the project if World Bank did not responded positively within Jan 2013.
“We will build Padma bridge. I can assure you this much – we have alternatives,” she had said.bdnews24.com