Mews Desk: The government expects to recover the Padma Bridge’s construction cost in next 35 years through a “well calculated” toll rate, officials said on Sunday.
“The toll rate has been fixed in a calculated way so the construction cost of the country’s biggest bridge could be recovered in next 35 years,” an official of the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) said.
He said the bridge was constructed with domestic financing, discarding foreign loans or grant of any type while the finance ministry provided BBA an amount of Tk 30,000 crore as credit, which “we will have to repay with one per cent interest rate in 35 years”.
“We will have to repay the loan with one per cent loan in 140 quarterly instalments,” the official said adding that the toll rate was fixed also considering the issues of the VAT and tax, the bridge’s management and maintenance alongside the occasional river training.
A BBA statement later substantiated his remarks saying an additional amount of Tk 340 crore would be repaid against the loan of Tk 211 crore taken during design framing of the mega-structure.
It said the vehicle operators using the bridge would have to pay on an average 50 per cent more than the fare they used to pay for ferry transportation.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) earned Tk 5.60 crore in November 2020 from vehicles which it ferried between Mawa and Jajira route while the BBA took the figure as one of the baselines in fixing the Padma Bridge’s toll expecting to collect Tk 8.65 crore monthly.
“But this is an initial estimation for now and the amount is not enough to realise the construction and subsequent maintenance costs in 35 years,” Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project’s director Md Shafiqul Islam told BSS.
He added that the vehicular movements would be enhanced and the toll rate would be re-fixed time to time as well in the coming years to realize the expected amount “as it happened in the case of Bangabandhu Bridge.
BBA officials said Bangabandhu Bridge by now realized the construction cost ahead of the expected timeline.
According to a Detailed Economic and Financial Analysis by a project consultant firm in 2010, the monthly toll collection will eventually stand at Tk 133.66 crore and annual at Tk 1603.97 crore incoming years.
The 35-year loan repayment schedule under the agreement between the Finance Division and the BBA, Tk 596.88 crore will have to be paid in the first year of launching vehicular movements through the bridge, which would be increased up to Tk 1475 crore annually.
The government has issued a gazette notification on May 17, 2022 fixing the toll rates for the Padma Bridge, which is scheduled to open for the traffic movements on June 25.
According to the notification, the toll rate for a motorcycle is Tk 100, a car and a jeep Tk 750, a pickup van Tk 1,200, a microbus Tk 1,300, a small bus (31-seat) Tk 1400, a medium bus Tk 2000, a large bus (3-axel).
Tk 1,600 has been fixed for a small truck (up to 5 tons), Tk 2,100 for a medium truck (5-8 tonnes) and Tk 2,800 for a truck weighing 8-11 tonnes, Tk 5,500 for a truck (up to Three-axel), Tk 6,000 for a trailer (four-axel).
The notification also said that Tk 1,500 will be added to Tk 6,000 for each extra axel of a trailer over four-axel ones.