The construction of a China-funded large bridge project has created billions of more debts to Bangladesh. Notably, the project’s costs surged three times higher than the original estimate.
As Liberty Times reported, the Padma Bridge officially opened to traffic on June 25. This is known as the China-Bangladesh friendship bridge.
The Padma Bridge construction started in November 2015. It has a total length of 6.15 kilometers, becoming the longest bridge in Bangladesh. It ranks the 122nd longest in the world.
The bridge took eight years to finally complete and open to traffic.
The multipurpose bridge connects 21 districts of the southwest region with the capital Dhaka and the rest of the country by road and rail, which helps shorten travel duration.
Multilateral institutions originally funded the Padma Bridge project. In 2012, the World Bank withdrew from the $1.2 billion loan deal for the project on suspicion of corruption in Bangladesh.
Subsequently, other donors, including the Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (or JICA), also withdrew from the deal.
In the end, a single bidder, China Major Bridge Engineering Company, won the main construction contract.
The bridge crosses the Padma River. The piling depth reaches 122 meters, setting a record for the deepest piling of any bridge in the world.
According to VOA, Chinese state media attempted to claim the project as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but the Bangladeshi government dismissed the assertion.
The most striking thing is the cost of the project. The Padma Bridge ended up costing 3.87 billion dollars. It means the project is more than three times higher than the original estimate of 1.2 billion dollars.
It is estimated that the construction of one kilometer of the bridge cost nearly 630 million dollars.
The opposition criticized the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for increasing the project’s construction budget over the years and accused the authorities of building the bridge with one of the highest costs per kilometer.