$2b project up for tender today | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, November 17, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, November 17, 2009

32.5 km Elevated Expressway

$2b project up for tender today

The Ministry of Communications is finally floating tender today for building an elevated expressway of 32.5 kilometres or more in Dhaka on a public private partnership (PPP) basis.
The Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) under the ministry will receive pre-qualification documents for this $2 billion project from interested bidders till January 20.
A tender evaluation committee will select qualified bidders on the basis of several criteria and the pre-qualified bidders would then be asked to submit their bids for financing and construction of the project. The qualified bidders would arrange necessary finances for the project.
“We want to make significant progress in this project within the tenure of the government,” said Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain.
“The traffic situation in the city is a mess. A party's popularity in Dhaka decides the party's fate in the election. So our political commitment is to make this happen within our term.”
He said, "We started the project overcoming serious difficulties. We had waived some government rules so that it does not get tangled in red-tapism."
The applicants should have experience and financing capabilities to construct expressways, toll roads and bridges on Build, Operate, Transfer (BOT) or Build, Own, Operate, Transfer (BOOT) or PPP basis with combined value of not less than $500 million over the last 12 years.
One of the criticisms of this tender process is that it lacks a feasibility report. But according to Hossain, the Strategic Transport Plan (STP) stands as a feasibility report cum a guideline for undertaking large infrastructure projects in the capital of 13 million people with a density of 6,200 persons per square kilometre. Dhaka's population is projected to double in the next 20 years.
But the STP is not exactly a feasibility report for such elevated expressway project. Framed in 2005 by Louis Berger Group, USA and Bangladesh Consultants Ltd, the STP was approved by the government in March 2008 as a strategic paper to improve the capital's transport infrastructure. The STP touches upon other large-scale concepts like subway and rapid transit systems.
“Our tender documents include a provision for the bidders to conduct their own feasibility study for this project,” the minister clarifies. “No investor would put their money in a large project like this unless s/he is sure of financial returns,” he adds.
A panel of local and foreign experts will review the feasibility studies to be submitted by the bidders, he said.
The minister argues that the project will slow down if it starts off with a feasibility study.
In the past, some projects like maglev train saw feasibility study without any result while the communication ministry had wasted money for such studies.
In the current project, the investor will design and implement the expressway to encourage public transport and high occupancy vehicle by offering preferential usage rates and also preferably by segregating exclusive bus lanes. The investor will aim at relieving traffic congestion in the city. Its design will be sensitive to environment and the society.
To pre-qualify, the investors may form consortiums and provide information about their background, history of financial performance including audit reports of the last three years and list of professional employees with resume indicating their major professional experience.
The bidder will have to show experience in general construction in the field, constructing at least 10 km of elevated expressway, constructing elevated expressway/railways in major cities with specific achievements in traffic control and diversion and utilities relocation during the execution of the construction work with a combined value of $500 million or more in the last 12 years.

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