The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday cleared eight projects, including a Tk 3,263.63-crore one to construct Kewatkhali Bridge over the Brahmaputra River in Mymensingh. The approval came from the weekly Ecnec meeting held with Ecnec Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. The PM joined the meeting virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban, while others from the NEC conference room of the Planning Commission. Read: Govt to spend Tk 4,167cr on 10 projects, Ecnec gives nod “Today, the meeting approved eight projects with the overall estimated cost of Tk 5,441.63 crore (only additional cost of a revised project was counted here),” said Planning Minister MA Mannan while briefing reporters after the meeting. Of the cost, Tk 3,332.72 will come from the public coffer while Tk 2,060.98 crore from foreign sources as loans and the rest Tk 47.93 crore from the own fund of an organisation concerned, he said. The Kewatkhali steel arch bridge will be constructed by June, 2025 in order to establish improved road connectivity of Sherpur and Netrakona with the Mymensingh headquarters and the national capital. The main project operations include construction of a 2093-meter bridge foundation and substructure, 320-meter steel arch bridge superstructure, 1773-meter concrete bridge and construction of culverts, construction of a toll plaza, and 33.02 hectares of land acquisition and rehabilitation. Under the project, an overpass and 6.2-lm four-lane approach roads will be constructed alongside the main bridge. The planning minister said there would be four-lane approach roads on both sides of the bridge to be constructed with the latest technology. In reply to a question, Member (Physical Infrastructure Division) of the Planning Commission Mamun Al Rashid said that it would be the first steel arch bridge unlike other steel bridges in Bangladesh. “There’ll be no pillar under the main structure of the bridge so that the river navigation is not hampered,” he said. Read: Ecnec rejects Tk 17,290-cr primary school meal project Out of the project cost, Tk 1,353.83 crore will come from government funds, while Tk 1,909.79 crore as project assistance from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). At the meeting, the Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to construct an increased number of culverts in the flood-prone areas so that the usual water flow is not hindered, said MA Mannan. She stressed the need for modernizing and improving the operation of the bio-gas plants. Hasina put emphasis on the export of agricultural products maintaining the international standards of the goods, Mannan added. Referring to the approval of a project designed to transform the plant quarantine laboratory to an international standard one at the central packing house with Tk 156.36 crore, State Minister Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said the export volume of agricultural products of Bangladesh is now hovering over US$ 1 billion. So, the project has been undertaken to modernise the laboratory with the use of the latest technology and equipment in order to boost agricultural goods export. The five other new projects are Capacity Enhancement of existing Grid Substation and Transmission Line with an estimated cost of Tk 774.86 crore; Development of Madarganj-Koira-Monsurnagar (Kazipur)-Abdullah Mor(Sarishabari)-Dhonbari Road with Tk 685.13 crore; Massive Technology-based Integrated Resource Management for Poverty Alleviation with Tk 209.17 crore; Climate Smart Agriculture and Water Management (DoF Part) (CSAWMP) involving Tk 106.25 crore; and River Protection of Dhepa, Punorbhoba and Tangon Rivers in Dinajpur District with Tk 180.05 crore. Besides, Ecnec cleared the first revision of “Urban Resilience Project: Dhaka North City Corporation Part (DNCC Part) increasing the cost to Tk 812.23 crore from Tk 746.05 crore and extending the project deadline to April 2022 from June 2020.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved a $260 million loan to help Bangladesh construct a strategically important, state-of-the-art bridge in Mymensingh, which would substantially ease congestion in the northern city. Once complete, Kewatkhali Bridge will divert traffic from the busy city centre of Mymensingh. Being part of the Dhaka-Mymensingh-India border corridor project, the bridge will also help boost local and regional connectivity, the investment bank said in a release. Set to be the first arch steel bridge in Bangladesh, Kewatkhali Bridge will make use of the latest advances in technology to improve safety and promote early detection of structural damage, according to AIIB. Read: AIIB approves $100 million loan to Bangladesh for COVID-19 response More than 11 million people in Bangladesh’s northern region will benefit from increased mobility and integration of local and regional markets. The bridge will also shorten the travel time for people and vehicles and contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions. “As in other river delta environments, bridges play a strategic role in Bangladesh’s transport network," said AIIB Senior Investment Operations Specialist Natalia Sanz. "AIIB considers the financing of Kewatkhali Bridge an opportunity to use the latest technology in bridge maintenance and management to improve its structural performance, service life and the safety of the bridge for residents and motorists,” she said. Read Skilled workforce, better infrastructure to help Bangladesh grow faster: Canada The project includes a proposed Bridge Health Monitoring System (BHMS), which, Sanz said, would be used to provide early warnings of structural issues in the main bridge. Data on load and environmental effects, as well as the bridge responses, would be captured in real time and interfaced with a bridge rating system, allowing for more efficient monitoring and will help in formulating systematic approach to periodic inspection, according to AIIB. “By studying the changes observed in bridge conditions over time, engineers can develop models to distinguish the effects of maintenance activity from normal wear and tear," Sanz said. Read:AIIB approves USD 250mn loan for Bangladesh to fight COVID-19 "State-of-the-art work in this area includes deepening our understanding of physical deterioration processes, especially the effect of structural damage on the reliability and performance of structural components,” she added. Training and institutional development of the Roads and Highways Department on the maintenance and operation of an arch steel bridge and on the use of the BHMS is a core component of the project. The AIIB is a multilateral development bank whose mission is financing the Infrastructure for Tomorrow — infrastructure with sustainability being its core. It began operations in Beijing in January 2016 and has since grown to 103 approved members worldwide. Read BD Finance signs MoU with US-based SIG for infrastructure projects