Bangladesh is set to witness a historic moment on Saturday with the inauguration of Padma Bridge demonstrating to the world what this country can do on its own, proving the skeptics wrong amid the World Bank’s scrapping of committed loans.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who took up the challenge to go ahead with self-financing the bridge of national pride, will formally open the road-and-rail bridge, a milestone on the connectivity front, nationally and regionally.
Since the start on December 12, 2015 the work on building the country’s longest bridge at 6.15 kilometres did not stop even for a single day despite the Covid-19 pandemic situation and Holey Artisan tragedy.
Praises keep pouring in acknowledging the prime minister’s courage, determination and political leadership amid enormous difficulties to make the bridge into a reality.
Even diplomats stationed in Dhaka spoke highly about her decision and the economic impact of the mega project.
On June 29, 2012, the World Bank posted a long statement on its website mentioning that it decided to cancel its $1.2 billion IDA credit in support of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project, effective immediately.
The global lender claimed that it had “credible evidence” corroborated by a variety of sources which points to a high-level corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi government officials, SNC Lavalin executives, and private individuals in connection with the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project.
The World Bank provided information from two investigations to the PM Hasina, as well as the finance minister and the chairman of the Anti -Corruption Commission of Bangladesh (ACC) in September 2011 and April 2012.
On December 17 of the year, ACC filed a graft conspiracy case with Banani Police Station in Dhaka against Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, the then Bridges Division secretary; Kazi Mohammad Ferdous, the then superintendent engineer of Bangladesh Bridge Authority, and Reaz Ahmed Zaber, the then executive engineer of the Roads and Highways Department.
The accused also included former local agent of SNC-Lavalin Mohammad Mostofa and its ex-officials Mohammad Ismail, Ramesh Shah and Kevin Wales.