The presence of clay on the bed of the Padma river has forced the redesign of one third of the supporting pillars of the long-awaited multipurpose bridge project, two months after the deadline for their completion.
According to the latest report from the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, over half (52%) of the main construction work is finished on the 6.15km Padma Bridge, which will stand on a total of 42 piers.
But that does not include the reconfigurations of piers 6 to 12, as well as numbers 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32 and 36 following the discovery of the clay.
“The review of the piers is still ongoing,” Padma Bridge Project Director Shafiqul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune
He did not mention how much time it would take to complete the redesigns, even though all of them were supposed to have been completed by November last year.
Each span of the bridge extends for about 150m between each set of piers. The first span was installed on September 29 last year, and the second on January 27.
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Each span of the Padma Bridge is 150m long Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune
As per the original plan, the first span was to be installed at Mawa point. However, the placement of the span was shifted to Jazeera point as strong currents were causing problems with the pier at Mawa.
The project construction supervision consultant is currently in the process of reviewing all of the piers to ensure that further problems do not arise.
Construction firms scrambling for time
Construction firms involved with the Padma Bridge project have once again applied for additional time, despite the Bangladesh Bridge Authority having rejected previous petitions in this regard.
On November 26, 2014, the Bridge authority signed a deal with the China Major Bridge Engineering Company (CMBEC) Limited for construction of the Padma Bridge at a cost of Tk12,133.39 crore by November 26, 2018.
Also Read- Second span of Padma Bridge installed
The CBMEC is now requesting a 23-month extension to the project timeframe, as construction work is 25% behind schedule. The CBMEC filed a similar time petition in November last year.
In addition, the Bangladesh Bridge Authority signed a deal with Sinohydro Corporation Ltd China in November, 2014 for river training work of the Padma Bridge project to be conducted at a cost of Tk8,707.81cr by December 2018.
Having only completed 34% of the river training, Sinohydro Corporation Ltd has sought 18 months extra time.
“The construction firms can apply for more time, but we will always reject their proposals,” Project Director Shafiqul Islam said. Other bridge authority officials concurred that there was no chance of rearranging the deadline.
PM likely to visit project area for first time since inauguration on February 2
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to visit the Padma Bridge project area on February 2 this year, making her first trip to the location since the inauguration of the project on December 12, 2015.
Her Awami League government has long earmarked the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project as one of its highest priorities, with the administration keen to complete the project before the next parliamentary election slated for the end of the year.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has already been critical of the progress made on the Padma Bridge, but Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has said the government was focusing on completing the project at a high quality rather than rushing to finish it as soon as possible.
Obaidul, also the Awami League general secretary, made the statement during a visit to the project area on January 26.