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Malaysia agrees to undertake Bangladesh's bridge project

(Xinhua)

08:33, April 11, 2012

DHAKA, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia signed a deal with Bangladesh on Tuesday to undertake Bangladesh's Padma bridge project worth 2.9 billion U.S. dollars.

Bangladeshi Communications Minister Obaidul Quader and Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, special envoy of Malaysian prime minister, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, witnessed the signing ceremony, said the statement issued by Bangladesh High Commssion (embassy) in Kuala Lumpur.

After the signing ceremony, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Mohd Najib Tun Razak have spoken over telephone.

Terming the event as historic and landmark development, both the prime ministers renewed their commitment to working more closely for further strengthening bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and Malaysia.

Malaysia in January this year made its offer to Bangladesh after the bridge project was stalled last year over graft allegation raised by the World Bank, the coordinating financier of the project.

The project ran into trouble after the Washington-based lender suspended its 1.2-billion U.S. dollar loan to the Bangladeshi government in October last year over the alleged graft.

Asian Development Bank had pledged 610 million U.S. dollars, Japan International Cooperation Agency 400 million U.S. dollars and Islamic Development Bank 140 million U.S. dollars as loan for the bridge project.

The 10 km-long bridge will be built over Padma River, one of the three biggest rivers in Bangladesh. About 6.15 km of the bridge will be built over the river while the remaining part on both banks of the river.

Apart from connecting nearly 30 million people in Bangladesh's southwest region to the rest of the country, the bridge will enhance regional trade.

According to the Asian Development Bank, the physical work will include the construction of a two-level steel truss bridge, with a four-lane highway to accommodate road vehicles on top, and a lower deck with a single track railway to be added in future.

It said 12 km of approach roads, along with toll plazas and service areas will also be built, while dredging and river bank protection will be carried out.

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