Dhaka: Bangladesh has refuted “misleading” Chinese media claims that the Padma Bridge is “a major cooperation project” between Dhaka and Beijing.
In a statement on Saturday June 18, the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry said: “Some quarters are trying to portray that the Padma Multipurpose Bridge which is scheduled to be inaugurated on June 25 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been constructed with the assistance of foreign funds and is a part of (China’s) Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)”.
The statement “categorically asserted” that the bridge “has been entirely funded by the government of Bangladesh and no foreign funds from any other bilateral or multilateral funding agency has financially contributed to its construction”.
“Both Bangladeshi and foreign construction firms were engaged for the implementation of the project”.
The Ministry further said that the “completion of this bridge will fulfil the long cherished dream of the nation for connecting the 19 south-western districts with the rest of the country resulting in collective prosperity, socioeconomic development of Bangladesh as well as enhanced regional connectivity”.
It also hoped “that all friends of Bangladesh will join hands in celebrating the completion of this landmark project which is all the more special since it has been done entirely by the contribution of the people and the government of Bangladesh”.
Some Chinese media reports had tried to project the 6.15 railroad bridge as a product of China-Bangladesh cooperation, hinting that it was part of BRI plans, while completely undermining the fact the project was conceived by Prime Minister Hasina long before BRI’s existence.
She laid the foundation stone of the bridge in 2001 towards the end of her first term in power and took it up with World Bank for funding when she returned to power in 2009.
Later when the World Bank raised issues unacceptable to Bangladesh, Hasina decided to the country’s largest infrastructure project with own funds.
The construction work was given to a Chinese company but the funds were from Bangladesh’s own resources, according to the Ministry.