Bangladesh has both financial and technical capabilities to construct Padma bridge, and the government should move ahead confidently and maintaining transparency in the process, without being subservient to donors.
Expressing this view at a seminar in the capital yesterday, economists and engineers suggested that the government stop making contradictory statements about funding the bridge project.
Titled “Technical and Financial Ability of Bangladesh to Construct the Padma Bridge”, the seminar was organised by Engineers and Architects for Environment and Development and held at the Institution of Engineers.
“He [Moshiur] made the World Bank the lead partner in the project. Then he became the integrity adviser in the project, but now he is not saying anything about the bank’s loan cancellation or the project’s future,” said Anu Muhammad.
He suggested that the government form a national inquiry commission to look into the donor-funded projects and find out if they really aid the country’s development.
Economist MM Akash said the government could manage the required funds from part of the remittance and issuing sovereign bonds on the international market.
He said 60 percent (or $1.8 billion) of the estimated cost of the bridge — $2.97 billion — will have to be spent in foreign currency. The amount can be taken from the $12 billion a year remittance from expatriate Bangladeshi workers, he added.
Kazi Mohammad Shish, former chief engineer of WASA, presided over the seminar, also addressed by AMM Shafiqullah, former vice-chancellor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, and Engineer Sheikh Md Shahidullah.
Meanwhile, Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon at a roundtable in the city yesterday said, “The World Bank has bluffed people by cancelling its loan, and we should construct the bridge on our own to uphold our self-respect.”
The roundtable titled “Padma bridge, World Bank and Bangladesh: Form a Massive Uprising”, organised by his party was held its office.
Menon urged the government to disclose WB graft issues in parliament, and hold talks with all political parties to reach a consensus on building the bridge with local funds.
Criticising media reports on Abul Hossain’s resignation as information and communication technology minister, Menon said it seemed to have sided with the WB.
Columnist Syed Abul Maksud said construction of Padma bridge is now a prestige issue for the nation and, the opposition should make constructive observations in this regard. He demanded a full and fair investigation into the corruption charges made by the WB.
Manzurul Ahsan Khan, president of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, also spoke at the roundtable.