Slowdown in Padma Bridge construction upsets schedule

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 08 Jul 2017, 21:48:23
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Slowdown in Padma Bridge construction upsets schedule

Sinohydro hires US, Danish consultants to expedite work
Munima Sultana

A slowdown in the Padma Bridge construction has compelled the main Chinese contractor to hire two US and Danish consultants for expediting the work, trying to avert schedule failure.

Official sources said the remedial step came to prevent the crucial project schedule from failure as the main bridge-construction and river-training works were yet to make any headway even after the passage of half the crucial year.

The project office thought it fit to revise its year planning to meet the target of completion by 2018 of the national-prestige bridge, being built defying stances of major global donors, particularly the World Bank.

Although works on approach roads and service areas were completed, the Chinese contractors of main bridge and river-training parts could make ignorable percentage of progress during the last six months.

"It should have been in full swing but it is now done partially for not being able to confirm the main bridge design and trial river-training works," said one official.

According to the project office, approach roads on both sides of the bridge over the mighty river Padma were completed last month and were now being used by local people.

Service areas 1 and 2 were also completed and will be used by consultants of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) project until main bridge-construction and river-training works are completed.

"Approach roads at Jajira end are now used to reach ferry ghat in shorter time," said another official.

However, monthly progress report till June shows that physical progress on the PMB project is 44 per cent while financial progress 49 per cent.

Main bridge-construction work had not progressed much since January when it was 35 per cent. Till June, progress has been recorded 38 per cent in the case of bridge construction but 30 per cent work on river training was done.

Sources said owing to problem in trial and lack of equipment, the work had been suspended for several months.

The overall situation being such, Sinohydro Corporation Limited, which was awarded the work order, has now appointed two foreign consultants from the United States and Denmark to give a nudge to the work to catch up with the timeline.

The Project Office has already asked the contractors to reinforce its manpower and give necessary inputs to cover the time lost.

Project Director Mohammad Shafiqul Islam, however, said problems with confirmation of design had gradually been solved and the work was expected to expedite soon.

"Majority of the viaducts on Mawa and Jajira sides have been started with the confirmation of piers," he said.

Though the PD claimed that main bridge construction could be completed in time, it is learnt that river training may take six months more to complete.

The Project Office has yet to hand over 700 metres of riverbank on the Jajira side due to the shifting of ferry ghat to Kathalbari. After the inauguration of the country's longest bridge, this part of the river- training work will be started.

The PMB Project Office, at the beginning of the year, had alerted the headquarters of China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Company Limited and Sinohydro Corporation Limited appointed for the 6.15-kilometre-bridge-construction-and river-training works respectively for their unsatisfactory performance till December.

At that time, the authorities also sent back some experts of the two companies.

The project's overall progress until January was 40 per cent, with main bridge-construction work constituting 35 per cent and river training 28.5 per cent.

According to the government-set target of inaugurating the bridge by 2018, half the project works were supposed to be completed within two years of contract signing with the two companies.

China Major Bridge won the 6.15-kilometre main bridge- construction work involving a cost of Tk 121.33 billion and launched the work in November 2014.

Sinohydro started work on December 31, 2014 after winning the 14km river-training work against its lowest offer of Tk 87.07 billion worth of contract.

smunima@yahoo.com
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