Design-related problems in 14 piers of the Padma Bridge would cause at least a six-month delay in its construction.
Construction of the 6.15km bridge connecting the capital with the southwestern region would not be completed by the government's set December deadline.
Of the 40 piers, piling for the 14 could not be done due to the nature of the riverbed. The authorities were trying to redesign the piers, said sources in the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA).
Time and again Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader had said the bridge would be done within the deadline, which now seems very unlikely.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said construction of the bridge might not be finished before June 2019.
Speaking at a prize-giving ceremony at the NBR, he said, “Our Mr Obaidul Quader wanted to complete the bridge by December this year. But this will not be possible as all spans have not yet been laid.”
He claimed that Quader was of the opinion that the bridge would be at least done by March 2019 but Muhith termed it over-optimistic.
The construction work of the country's largest bridge was going on in full swing before the BBA, the implementing agency of the project, last year discovered problems in the design of some piers.
It found that piling could not be done due to the character of the Padma riverbed there.
Over the last several months, the BBA and its consultants have been trying to fix the problem. Now, they have decided to re-design the 14 piers.
They are considering deeper piling for the piers.
Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury, chairman of the government's panel of experts on Padma Bridge, said the problem with piling work was going to be resolved as experts were working on redesigning the 14 piers. "Some of the piers require more piling and that will depend on the character of earth around it," he told The Daily Star.
Given the current work progress rate, he predicted that the Padma Bridge project would be completed in the second half of next year.
A team of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Department (IMED) after visiting the Padma Bridge area in November last year said construction of the main bridge was lagging about eight months behind.
According to a government report of December on fast-track projects, 53 percent work on building the main bridge had been completed while about 34 percent of river-training work had been done.
The Jajira approach road was almost finished and Mawa approach road was complete.
It claimed that half of the entire Padma Bridge project work was done.