Country Report Bangladesh January 1996 Main report

Transport & Communications: Jamuna bridge project is behind schedule

As construction work began in October on the main component of the Jamuna multi-purpose bridge (JMB), the communications minister, Oli Ahmed, admitted that it was behind schedule but said that the government still hoped that the bridge would be completed by the end of 1997. About one- quarter of the river training work had been finished by mid-October (30% should have been completed by August 1995, according to the plan), while the preliminary work on the main bridge and the approach viaduct was only 8% complete, compared with 21% in the plan. By December Mr Ahmed reported that the work on the first two contracts had caught up, although progress on the third and fourth contracts was still a little behind.

On the technical side, a potentially serious problem was that the rocks imported from India to strengthen the foundations of the bridge were of poor quality, according to tests on them conducted in the UK. Already 400,000 tons of these rocks have been imported and paid for by the World Bank. The Construction Supervision Consultant (CSC) for the bridge also came in for criticism as it was alleged that its field organisation lacked delegation and a chain of command, and that it had committed irregularities such as allowing contractors to start work without first obtaining the permission of the JMB Authority. Meanwhile, the project to set up a railway link to the eastern side of the Jamuna bridge has received approval. The 85 km track will go from Joydevpur via Tangail to the Jamuna bridge and is estimated to cost Tk3.25bn ($81m).

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