PADMA BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION
New army brigade to oversee projectShakahawat Hossain
The government has assigned the newly created composite brigade of the Army to oversee the Padma Bridge construction project, officials said Thursday.
Construction of the bridge by the Awami League-led government, having less than six months at hand with its tenure ending on January 24, looks uncertain.
On Thursday, prime minister Sheikh Hasina formally announced the raising of the 99 Composite Brigade by hoisting its flag at a ceremony at Army Aviation Hanger.
The brigade has been created to oversee the construction of the bridge across the Padma River and ensure security, said officials.
The new brigade is manned by more than 2,200 army officers and soldiers drawn from other units, said a communication ministry official.
The proposal from the armed forces division to raise the division got finance ministry approval on Wednesday.
Before sending the proposal, the armed force division took the consent from the prime minister Sheikh Hasina, he said.
The unit would need around Tk 60 crore annually, he said.
Padma Bridge project director Shafiqul Islam told New Age on Wednesday that the new brigade and a BUET team of experts would jointly oversee the bridge construction.
He said the tenders were floated in June inviting bidders for the main bridge.
He also said that tenders were floated last week inviting bidders for river training.
Meanwhile, the bridge division has extended the time for submitting bids for the main bridge by two months until November 9 as international construction companies showed no interest in the multi-billion dollar construction project.
Officials said international construction firms lost interest after the government decided to bear the costs in the wake of donors, led by the World Bank withholding funding for the project.
Doubts have been expressed by finance minister AMA Muhith that the bridge construction could start during the tenure of this government.
Officials said a similar composite brigade was deployed at the Bangabandhu Bridge, earlier called the Jamuna Bridge, more than a year after the completion of the bridge across the Jamuna River.
The armed forced division in its proposal said the expenses of the new brigade would be borne from the army budget.
No new recruitments would take place for the brigade, it said.
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