A South Korean company is going to be appointed for maintenance and toll collection after construction of the much-hyped Padma Bridge is completed.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs yesterday approved a proposal in this regard with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair.
Under the approved proposal, Korea Expressway Corporation (KEC) will be appointed for the works following director procurement method under government to government arrangement.
The approval came around a year after the Bangladesh Bridge Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with (KEC), for operation, maintenance and toll collection of long-cherished Padma Bridge in September last year.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, the finance minister said people abroad have to pay toll for using roads and the toll money is used for road maintenance.
"But, we can't collect toll as manual toll collections is troublesome. The famous Korean company will use automatic toll collection system," he said.
Bridges Division is implementing the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project. The 6.15km bridge, which would be the longest bridge in the country, would connect the country's southwestern region with the capital through road and rail links.
Belayet Hossain, secretary of the division, said now the Korean company will give their financial proposal and they would negotiate over the contract price and would require approval of purchase committee before singing final contract.
"So, it would take some time," he added.
When the MoU was singed, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader had said KEC will introduce Electronic Toll Collection system, which will be run automatically and thus no vehicles have to stop at the toll booths.
He also said the corporation will also use performance-based management system and will provide training to people of different government agencies involved in toll collection.
Construction of the Padma Bridge started in November 2014 and the current deadline of the project is June 2021. The project cost rose to Tk 30,193 crore following several revisions of the deadline.
But, the current deadline is going to be deferred further as the works are being hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic and strong current in the Padma River, which already devoured a part of the construction yard.
The overall progress of the project was around 80 percent till June this year.
Once opened, the bridge will connect the capital with 21 southern districts. It is expected to boost the country's gross domestic product by 1.2 percent.