China to okay $1.2b loan for Dhaka-Ashulia expressway

Shakhawat Hossain  | Published: 01:36, Oct 13,2020


China has informed Bangladesh that it will approve a $1.2 billion loan for building the Dhaka–Ashulia elevated expressway after one year of scrutiny, officials said.

Beijing has also sought the preliminary development project proposal for the East-West Elevated Expressway to be built at an estimated cost of $2 billion to ease the traffic congestion in and around Dhaka.

Dhaka–Ashulia elevated expressway project director Shahiduzzaman Khan told New Age that the loan approval procedure by the Chinese government was expected to conclude this month.

 ‘We are expecting a formal announcement in November-December to this effect,’ he said.

ERD officials said that the $1.2 billion credit for the Dhaka–Ashulia expressway was likely to be the only deal in the current calendar year.

Last year, loans for two projects were approved.

They were the Expansion and Strengthening of Power System Network under Dhaka Power Distribution Company and the Power Grid Network Strengthening Project under the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh.

So far, Beijing has approved nine projects after Bangladesh and China signed a memorandum of understanding to implement 27 projects with a $20 billion loan, announced by Chinese president Xi Jinping during his visit to Dhaka in 2016.

The amount of loan for the nine projects is $7.1 billion.   

As of June, seven agreements worth $6.65 billion loan were signed to implement the projects while the EXIM Bank of China disbursed $1.54 billion in the period.

The projects include Padma Bridge Rail Link, Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River, Installation of ‘Single-Point Mooring with Double Pipeline, Development of National ICT Infra-Network for Bangladesh Government Phase III called Info-Sarkar.

The ERD officials said that they were right on track to get $1 billion loan approved on average every year by the Chinese Exim Bank.

Of the under-construction projects, the Padma Rail Link project is being implemented with the single highest credit of $2.6 billion, for which the loan agreement was signed in April 2018.

Until June this year, $533.58 million was disbursed for the project.

Padma Rail Link project director Gomal Fakhruddin Ahmed on Sunday said that they were yet to speed up the project activities that became slow due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that materials like girders built in China could not be inspected there by project officials due to the pandemic.

Now the Bangladesh Railway has decided to appoint a third party for the inspection job, he said, adding that the overall progress of the project was 23 per cent, seven per cent short on the projected 30 per cent, until June this year.

A loan of $705.80 million was approved by China for constructing the Karnaphuli Tunnel.

According to the ERD officials, $326.73 million loan was disbursed until June for the tunnel.

Until August, the progress of the tunnel project was around 58 per cent, according to an update of the Bangladesh Bridge Authority.

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