Bangladesh has managed to evade the Chinese debt trap as Dhaka decided to construct its biggest infrastructure project over Padma river by itself. Learning from the experience of Sri Lanka and Nepal, Bangladesh will build rail and road bridges over Padma river by itself and boost regional connectivity.
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The 20-kilometre-long rail and road bridges over Padma river is being built by self-generated funds totalling approximately about Rs 30,000 crore in local currency. The bridges, along with connecting highways is projected to be completed in the next few years.
“There is no international funding for this project and budget has been allocated from Bangladesh’s own resources to avoid any debt trap,” said a key source.
The railroad bridge over Padma river which the World Bank had earlier declined to finance will be part of the Asian Highway connecting Bangladesh with India and Southeast Asia.
According to Bangladesh government officials, the bridge would connect Dhaka with undeveloped southwest Bangladesh and the rest of the nation, which is experiencing an economic boom following a decade of stability.
While some Chinese companies are involved in the execution of the project picked through tenders, the project, however, has no Chinese fundings. Bangladesh has been circumspect in accepting loans from China and many times even rejected and blacklisted Chinese firms contending for infrastructure projects in the country.
The Khaleda Zia regime in Bangladesh had substantial reservations against the connectivity and transit projects as she believed that it would encroach on the sovereignty of Bangladesh. However, the Sheikh Hasina realised that connectivity and transit was a win-win situation for Bangladesh and has been actively supporting the intra-region connectivity.
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