Bangladesh inks landmark bridge lone deal with World Bank



Dhaka: Bangladesh on Wednesday signed a landmark USD 1.2 billion loan agreement with the World Bank for a huge bridge that would directly link the riverine country's impoverished southwestern region with its central and eastern parts through roads and railway tracks.

Senior government officials including Finance Minister A M A Muhith and Wold Bank's Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala witnessed the signing of the deal for the 6.15 Padma Multipurpose Bridge connecting suburban Maowa with western Shariatpur over the River Padma.

The signing ceremony was organised on floating ferry on the Padma with World Bank's country director Ellen Goldstein and Bangladesh's economic relations division secretary M Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan signing the deal for the respective sides. The project expected to be completed by 2015.

The multilateral lending agency is the lead contributor to the USD 2.93 billion Padma Bridge Project with other development lenders being Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

According to a Bretton Woods report, the planned bridge would boost the country's gross domestic product by 1.2 per cent, revive the fortune of the ailing Mongla Port and cut poverty in the poorest south-western districts.

The report said pace of poverty alleviation in the country's 20 odd southwestern districts, where level of hunger is five percent higher than the national average, would speed up once the bridge, to be the longest of the country, was built.

Bangladesh witnessed the opening of its last longest Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge over the Jamuna River in 1998 connecting the backward northwestern region with the central and eastern regions.

It was the 11th longest bridge in the world and the longest in South Asia.

PTI