Malaysia clears Padma bridge funding proposal

Outgoing Malaysian High Commissioner Jamaluddin Bin Sabeh disclosed this during a farewell call on Foreign Minister Dipu Moni at her office on Sunday.

On October 20, 2011, the Malaysian government offered to construct the much-awaited 6.15km Padma bridge in Bangladesh.

Malaysian prime minister’s special envoy (India and South Asia) on infrastructure S Samy Vellu made the offer when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office.

The Malaysian proposal came against the backdrop of the World Bank’s refusal to continue its commitment to finance the project because of alleged corruption, a charge denied by the government outright.

The World Bank had promised to provide US$ 1.2 billion to Bangladesh for constructing the mega bridge. The Asian Development Bank had also committed to providing US$ 615 million, while Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) US$ 400 million and the Islamic Development
Bank (IDB) $ 140 million for the Padma Bridge project.

In October, the World Bank suspended its funding for the project following allegations of corruption in river dredging, appointment of consultants and selection of pre-qualified contractors on the project. Jica and ADB have also extended their loan activation dates.

The bridge was supposed to be completed by 2014, to connect 19 southwestern districts of the country with the capital city.

Following the alleged corruption against former Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain, the government removed Abul from the ministry. Senior Awami League leader Obaidul Quader was given the responsibility for the vital ministry.

During today’s meeting, the Foreign Minister thanked the Malaysian government for its support in providing Bangladesh with equipment for Machine Readable Passport (MRP), carrying out dredging works by Malaysian Maritime and Dredging Corporation (MMDC) in Chittagong Seaport and showing interest in the Padma multipurpose bridge.

She also expressed happiness at the process of legalising Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia and hoped that new recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia will start soon.

After having been legalised, Dipu Moni also hoped, Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia will get safer work environment diminishing the scope for unscrupulous agents to exploit the workers.

The outgoing envoy also informed the Foreign Minister that Malaysia is going to arrange a showcase programmne in Dhaka to commemorate the 40 years of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister requested the High Commissioner to play an active role in recruiting skilled and semiskilled workers from Bangladesh.

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