Bangladesh Bridge Authority yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Expressway Corporation (KEC), for operation and maintenance of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge.
Rezaul Haider, director (admin) of Bridge Authority, and Shin Young Suk, managing director of KEC, signed the MoU on behalf of their respective parties.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader was present at the signing ceremony at Setu Bhaban in capital’s Banani.
Under the MoU, a technical team of KEC will visit Padma Bridge site and will give a technical proposal on maintenance method, required manpower and relevant issues including toll collection, Quader said.
Once the technical proposal is approved, KEC will provide a financial proposal following bridge operations and maintenance manual, he said, adding that both sides will then sign a contract.
Quader, also general secretary of ruling Awami League, said KEC will introduce Electronic Toll Collection system, which will be run automatically and thus no vehicles have to stop at the toll booths.
He also said the corporation will also use performance-based management system and will provide training to people of different government agencies involved in toll collection.
Asked about media reports that the possible toll of Padma Bridge will be more than the toll of Bangabandhu Bridge, the minister refuted it.
“We are yet to hold primary discussion over the toll amount,” he claimed.
Quader said the overall progress of Padma Bridge is at 73.5 percent at present, adding that the main bridge structure has reached 86.50 percent completion.
On the other hand, river training of Padma is at 62.5 percent, the minister said, adding that the connecting road has been completed.
Asked about BNP’s criticism over the government plan to collect toll from highways, the minister said BNP does not have any experience of constructing highways.
“There were no four-lane highways during BNP government. Metro Rail, Padma Bridge was not even in their dreams,” he said.
Other countries are collecting tolls from highways and BNP leaders are pretending to be unaware of it, he said.
“Tolls will be collected for road maintenance,” he added.
Speaking at the event, senior secretary to the Bridges Division Khandker Anwarul Islam said the Korean firm has been picked for the work as they have experience in maintaining several thousand bridges. The proposal came directly from the South Korean government, he added.