Chinese firm to build Bangladesh’s troubled Padma Bridge scheme

A Chinese contractor has won a $1.6bn contract to build a bridge over the River Padma in Bangladesh. The bridge, which will be 25m wide and 10km long, will be the longest in southern Asia, and the biggest construction project in Bangladesh’s history.

The successful contractor was China Major Bridge Engineering Company. The firm previously constructed the 36km Hangzhou Bay Bridge in China, the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world. 

The bridge project achieved some notoriety after it became part of the corruption investigation into the Quebec contractor SNC Lavalin.

The probe into that affair by Canadian and Bangladeshi authorities delayed the bridge for three years, and led to the World Bank cancelling its $1.2bn financing for the project in 2012.  After the delay, the government of Bangladesh decided to pay for the work, with 26% of the cost being offered in local currency and the rest in foreign currency.

Once the tender was relet, China Bridge was the only company to bid for the project; two South Korean contractors, Samsung and Daelim, were also interested, but failed to submit a bid by the government’s deadline. 

After construction, the bridge will directly connect 21 districts and nearly 30 million people in the south of Bangladesh. The bridge will also enhance regional trade and collaboration along the Asian highway 1 and the Trans-Asian railway network.

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