The bridges division has prepared a tight schedule to implement different components of the delayed Padma Bridge project at a faster rate.
While the construction of the main bridge and river training are yet to take off, work on the other components such as the two approach roads and service area have been progressing at a brisk pace.
The army has been serving as the supervision consultant for work on these three components of the project, with assistance from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
The Jazira approach road, which is being constructed by a Bangladesh-Malaysia joint venture at a total cost of Tk 1,097.39 crore, is already 25 percent complete, according to the bridges division.
The government awarded the contract to AML-HCM JV on October 8 last year for completion of the approach road within 36 months.
The company also got the contract for the construction of the Mawa approach road on January 27 this year for completion within 30 months at a cost of Tk 193.40 crore. As of May, 17 percent has already been completed.
Abdul Monem Limited on January 12 this year got the contract for construction of the service area for completion within 30 months at a cost of Tk 208.71 crore. So far, 7 percent has been completed.
The government on Tuesday signed an agreement with the China Major Bridge Engineering Co Ltd for construction of the main bridge at a total cost of Tk 12,133 crore.
Around 15 percent of the total cost would be handed out in June for procurement of materials, such that construction work takes off in August, said an official of the bridges division.
However, construction work of the main bridge cannot start without a supervision consultant, which is yet to be appointed. The official said it is expected to be done by June.
No contractor though has been appointed for the major component of the project, river training, expected to cost Tk 6,943 crore.
The last date for submission of financial proposal by the successful bidders was yesterday, and three companies -- Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co Ltd, Jan De Nul NV Belgium and Sinohydro Corporation Ltd -- have put in their applications.
Obaidul Quader, communications minister, yesterday told reporters that the contract for river training will be awarded by July.
Approved in 2008, the Padma Bridge project hit a roadblock in 2012 when the World Bank, a significant financier of the project, cancelled its $1.2 billion credit upon allegations of corruption.
Subsequently, the government in early 2013 decided to implement the project with its own resources.
The bridges division official said the project has been delayed further due to bidder selections: the bidders themselves sought more time.
Despite the delay, question remains among many about the final project cost.
When it was approved in 2008, the estimated cost was Tk 10,161 crore, but it was revised up to Tk 20,507 crore at the end of 2011.
Then in May last year, the bridges division said the project cost would come to Tk 23,185 crore, which was equivalent to $2.93 billion.
Some Tk 8,100 crore has already been allocated for it in fiscal 2014-15, with the bridges division putting in requests for a total of Tk 16,000 crore for fiscal 2015-16 and fiscal 2016-17.
The officials said the project cost would eventually cross the Tk 29,000 crore-mark.
However, Project Director Shafiqul Islam is hopeful that the cost would not go further north from Tk 23,185 crore. In dollar terms, it would remain within $2.93 billion.
The final estimate though will be made after the appointment of consultants for river training and supervision, he added.