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BD seeks $6.4b Chinese fund for new projects

Nine schemes, including Bhola-Barishal Bridge, on the list

Mir Mostafizur Rahaman | June 29, 2020 00:00:00

Bangladesh now wants Chinese funds for nine new projects worth US$ 6.4 billion.

The Economic Relations Division has recently sent a letter to the Chinese government seeking investment fund for these projects, said finance ministry officials.

The government sought $1.6 billion for the construction of the first phase of the Pyra sea port and $1.2 billion for the construction of the country's longest bridge to link Barisal with the island district of Bhola, according to the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by the FE.

The authorities also sought $853 million for the Teesta river comprehensive management and restoration project and $805.35 million for the project on the "Expansion of Strengthening of Power System Network under DPDC area (PGCB part)."

The other projects of the list are the establishment of Sheikh Hasina Institute of Information technology and hi-tech park, procurement of oil tankers, upgrades of Barisal-Kuakata highway to four-lane, construction of high-tech rural bridge across the country, and the construction of sewerage collection system under Dasherkandi STP catchment of Dhaka city.

The proposal was made in line with the discussions held at the first meeting of the Investment Cooperation Working Group held in Dhaka recently, finance ministry officials said.

During the Dhaka visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, both the countries signed memo for implementing several infrastructure projects worth over $25 billion.

The Investment Cooperation Group was set up to monitor these projects.

Though China last year requested Bangladesh not to send any new proposal for Chinese funding until the completion of the ongoing projects, Bangladesh argued in the meeting that since some projects were withdrawn from the list, these new projects can replace those.

Bangladesh had earlier withdrawn four projects worth $3.2 billion from Chinese funding as those projects were being implemented by other agencies.

One of those projects is Dhaka-Sylhet four lane highway project, for which the Asian Development Bank is providing fund.

Among the proposed new projects Barisal-Bhola bridge project and Pyra sea port projects are being considered crucial.

The government has long been looking for development assistance for the construction of Bhola bridge spanning over the Tetulia and the Kalabadar rivers.

The length of the Padma bridge is 6.15 kilometres.

The Bangladesh Bridge Authority has already completed the feasibility study, which selected possible alignment of the bridge and based on survey, study and discussions, the bridge alignment was fixed at about a few hundred metres downstream the Bheduria Ferry Ghat on the Bhola side and the Laaharhat Ferry Ghat on the Barishal side from the existing highway.

Of the 10km of the bridge, about 3km will be over Sreepur Char, which separates two channels of the braided river.

The bridge authority, which requested the ERD to seek fund for construction of the bridge, said the bridge would open up a scope for bringing in natural gas from Bhola as it would have facilities to carry gas through pipelines.

On the other hand, the Payra sea port has been partially constructed and began basic operations in August 2016.

The full port construction project will have 19 separate components, 13 of which will be implemented under foreign direct investment, and six of which will be financed through government-to-government deals. The total cost of the port is estimated to be $11-15 billion.

In September 2017, the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology won a contract to prepare the master plan and design of the port.

The China Harbour Engineering Company and China State Engineering and Construction Company (CSCEC) were awarded contracts worth $600 million to develop two of the 19 components.

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