Malaysia loses bid for Padma bridge

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has lost the bid to build the Padma bridge in Bangladesh to a Chinese construction company, which is believed to have offered to construct it at a lower cost.

It was reported that China Major Bridge Engineering Co Ltd had proposed to build the bridge at a cost of 12,133.39 crore takas (RM5.06 billion), which was lower than the bid offered by the Malaysian government at RM6.6 billion via Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu, who is the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to India and South Asia.

In February this year, Samy Vellu said Malaysia was offering to invest RM6.6 billion to build the bridge.

A consortium, comprising experienced Malaysian construction companies, was to be set up to undertake the 6.15km multipurpose road-rail bridge, the largest infrastructure project in Bangladesh.

Samy Vellu was also reported as saying that several big names in the Malaysian construction industry and government-linked companies had been earmarked to join the consortium, which would be monitored by the Prime Minister’s Department, through the special envoy’s office.

He had proposed that Malaysia would complete the mega project in four years if the Bangladesh government agreed to the proposal.

The Malaysian envoy had also proposed that they would take back the total returns in 26 years on the toll collected from the bridge that would connect 19 southern districts with Dhaka and the eastern region and is expected to increase the gross domestic product by 1.2%.

The Dhaka Tribune had on Sunday reported Bangladesh’s Communications Minister Obaidul Quader as saying that the long-awaited Padma bridge will be open for public use at the beginning of 2018.

“The work order for construction of the bridge will be given within one or two days and China Major Bridge is responsible for constructing the bridge,” Obaidul said.

“The contract will be signed in June and the construction work will be completed after four years,” he added.

The Dhaka Tribune reported that on May 11, 2010, the Bangladesh government floated the first tender for appointing the builder of the Padma bridge in 2011. At that time, the project cost was 9,127.17 crore takas.

However, the tender process was suspended in August 2011, following allegations of corruption conspiracies raised by the World Bank.

The final tender was floated on June 26 last year and China Major Bridge submitted its main financial offer on April 24 this year, reported the Dhaka Tribune.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on June 4, 2014.

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