Rules bent for financier
The government had shared all confidential technical data on the Padma bridge project with a Malaysian construction firm during its attempt to find an alternative financier for the project after the World Bank suspended its funding over corruption allegations.
Malaysian construction firm Axisjaya was given all the data, which it then shared with Korean company Samsung, a short-listed bidder, before Axisjaya submitted technical and financial proposals to the government on August 27 this year.
The other bidders, who were also short-listed, said the bidder that received the data will have an advantage over them in the race to get the job for constructing the bridge in the $2.9 billion project, now stalled due to alleged corruption in the bidding process.
They also alleged that two more short-listed bidders managed to obtain the confidential data either from the Malaysian firm or a section of unscrupulous officials at the Bridges Division.
The bidders that got the data have already worked on it. And this is an injustice to the other bidders that will get the same data when the tender for bridge's construction will be floated, they said.
Public Procurement Regulation and the WB's procurement guidelines stipulate that confidential data on a project cannot be shared with anyone before floating tenders because if any bidder gets the data, it will have an edge over its competitors.
The government in April signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Malaysia regarding the bridge's construction, and the data was shared with the Malaysian firm following the MoU.
The government moved to get alternative funding for the project after the WB suspended its $1.2 billion funding in September last year over corruption allegations in the project.
The global lender then cancelled its credit for the project in June, saying it had proof of corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and individuals.
Padma bridge project director Shafiqul Islam finds nothing wrong in sharing the project's data with the Malaysian firm.
â€œA company cannot submit a proposal if you don't give them necessary information,â€ he said.
The official said all short-listed firms will have full access to information on the project so that they can submit their proposals without any problem.
Holding out the assurance that adequate time will be given to them to work on the data, Shafiqul said he had no knowledge of any firm, other than Axisjaya, getting the data.
Daelim-Bam-VCI (a joint venture entity of Korea), China Major Bridge Engineering, China Communication Construction Company, and Vinci-HCC (a joint venture of France and India) are the other short-listed companies for the project.