Monday, October 5, 2009

Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Bridge (Contd-1)

History of Construction
The river Jamuna (Brahmaputra) along with the lower stretch of the Padma (Ganges) divides Bangladesh into nearly two equal halves.The need for a bridge over the river Jamunawas felt, especially by the people living in north-western Bangladesh, for a long time. Popular leader Maulana Abdul Hamid khan Bhasani first raised the demand for construction of the Jamuna Bridge at a Political level in 1949. In the 1954 provincial elections of east Pakistan, the 21-point manifesto of the United Front contained a demand for the bridge. On Jan 6, 1964, Mohammad Saifur Rahman, a member from Rangpur in the provincial assembly inquired the government's intentions with regard to the construction of a bridge over the Jamuna. On July 11, 1966, Shasul Haque, another member from Rangpur in the same Assemly , moved a resolution for the construction of the and the house adopted it unanimously.
Accordingly a preliminary feasibilitty study was carried out in 1969 by Freemen Fox and
Partners of UK. They recommended a rail-cum-road bridge near Sirajganj with an estimated cost of $175 million. The estimates were preliminary in nature and a more deyailed study was recommended. On the oter hand, in his address to the nation over radio and Television on the eve of general election in Pakistan in 1970, the Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman mentioned the construction of Jamuna Bridge as an election pledge of his party. But all efforts were interrrupted due to political unrest and Liberation War.

After Bangladesh attained independence in 1971,the new Government publicly stated its intention in 1972 to construct the Bridge and the budgetary provision was kept for the purpose in the 72-73 budget. On being invited by the Baangladesh govt. the japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)funded a feasibility study through Nipon Koei Co. Ltd. in 1973 on the construction of a road-cum-rail bridge over the Jamuna.

Jamuna River

The JICA study, completed in 1976, concluded that the jamuna project would cost $683 million with an economic rate of return (ERR) of only 2.6%. Considering that project is not technically and economically viable, the Govt. had abondoned the project. However, it was revived again in 1982 and commissioned a new study to determine the feasibility of transferring natural gas to western parts of the country across the Jamuna. The study concluded that an independent gas connector was not economically viable. However, the consultants made an assessment of the engineering feasibility and cost of a combined road-cum-gas trasmission bridge which intrduced the concept of a multipurpose bridge. It was estimated that a 12-km long bridge with three road lanes would cost $420 million. Upon consideration of the report, the cabinet made a decision to take immediate steps in pusuit of the project.