A Malaysian consortium will be set up to undertake the RM6.6 billion Padma multi-purpose bridge project in Bangladesh after both nations sign a government-to-government (G2G) memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the end of this month.
Special Envoy (Infrastructure) to India and South Asia, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, said the consortium, comprising experienced Malaysian construction companies, will be set up after the Bangladesh government accepted Malaysia's technical and financial proposals on the project last week.
The Padma Bridge is a 6.15 kilometres multi-purpose road-rail bridge across the Padma River.
It will connect Louhajong, Munshiganj to Shariatpur and Madaripur, linking the south-west of the country to northern and eastern regions.
When completed, it will be the country's biggest infrastructure project to date and will be declared the largest bridge in Bangladesh as well as the first fixed river crossing for road traffic.
"Bangladesh has seen our success in building bridges such as the first and second Penang Bridge. (Bangladesh) Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina requested us to look at the proposed bridge.
"We did a due diligence for the past one month and finally, with the consent of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, we told the Bangladesh government we are ready to build the bridge," Samy Vellu told Bernama in an interview.
He said several big names in the Malaysian construction industry and government-linked companies had been earmarked to join the consortium, which would be monitored by the Prime Minister's Department, through the special envoy's office.
"The contractor has brought in a financer from Dubai. Serious negotiations are currently going on between them.
"The Malaysian and Bangladeshi governments have no say in identifying and deciding on the financer.
"This bridge will be a very important project for Malaysia as it will prove to the world that this country (Malaysia) has the ability to do anything on earth, especially in the infrastructure segment," Samy Vellu said.
On when the project would start, he said, the details on the timeframe could only be decided once the G2G agreement was sealed, slated to be on Feb 21, 2012.
He said the Malaysian consortium has to get some approvals after the signing of the MOU regarding the financial capabilities of the contractor.
After that, Samy Vellu said, Kuala Lumpur and Dhaka would sign a memorandum of agreement.
The Padma bridge project came under the spotlight after the World Bank suspended a US$1.2 billion loan to finance it, alleging corruption.
Besides World Bank, Asian Development Bank has pledged US$610 million, Japan International Cooperation Agency sanctioned US$400 million and the Islamic Development Bank pledged US$140 million as loan for the project.
Samy Vellu said Sheikh Hasina had last month indicated that her government would not take money from the World Bank to implement the bridge project if the bank failed to prove charges of corruption it has raised.