DHAKA, December 19, 2010: The World Bank is expected to finalize an initial $1.2 billion (Tk 84 billion) financing package for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project in January, according to World Bank Country Director Ellen Goldstein. She confirmed this when she met with the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today to provide an update and seek guidance on preparation of this flagship project.
The Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, with an estimated cost of $2.9 billion, will unlock the economic potential of the Southwest Region, transforming the lives of millions of Bangladeshis and accelerating national growth toward middle income country status.
The meeting with the Prime Minister followed a visit by the World Bank Country Director to the bridge site to assess progress in preparation. About 14,000 households will be affected by construction of the bridge, which requires land purchase and resettlement of many families. Robust environmental and social actions plans are already under implementation, and have garnered global awards and recognition for Bangladesh.
‘Work is underway to begin construction of the bridge. Construction of clinics, schools, markets and other community infrastructure, employing local men and women, has begun at the four resettlement sites’ said Ms. Goldstein. ‘Through retroactive financing, the World Bank is already funding land purchases before formal approval of our contribution. Overall, we will be financing $220 million in environmental and social actions to ensure that families in the construction zone have land, homes, livelihoods and community assets for improved welfare.’
In the meeting, Ms. Goldstein congratulated the Honorable Prime Minister for her leadership and close monitoring of the project’s progress, which has maintained momentum in preparation. She also noted the strong partnership among co-financiers, including the Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which has helped keep project preparation on track. The Honorable Prime Minister encouraged rapid implementation and stressed the importance of transparency and accountability on a project of such prominence and national stature.
The World Bank financing, through a soft credit of the International Development Association (IDA), carries less than one percent interest and a repayment period of 40 years. This type of low-cost financing ensures maximum development benefits for the people of Bangladesh when the bridge is completed.