HK firm to find cause of cracks in Jamuna bridge
Thursday, 28 February 2008

Staff Correspondent

The government on Tuesday selected a Hong Kong-based consulting firm to find out the causes for the cracks that have appeared in the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge since its construction.

Officials of Bangladesh Bridge Authority, which looks after the large bridges throughout the country, said the authorities concerned have selected Angel Lazaro from the two internationally reputed consulting firms, including Maunshell Consultants of France, which submitted technical proposals to the authorities in December for the Tk 8 crore consultancy project.

Apart from finding out the causes of the cracks, the consultant firm will also suggest possible remedial measures along with design, specification and work methodology, preparing tender documents for the selection of the contractor for repairs, estimating the cost of repairs and other related works and also supervising repair works and certifying job completion.

The officials said the BBA on Tuesday sent a letter of intent to Angel Lazaro, inviting it to sign an agreement to begin the consulting work. 'We will sign the agreement with the consulting firm within a week because of the urgency of the matter,' said the official He said Angel Lazaro would complete the work in two phases within a year and a half from the date of signing the agreement. Marga Net One, the operation and maintenance contractor of the 4.8 km bridge that was opened to traffic in June 1998, first detected numerous cracks in different parts of the bridge in March 2006 during a regular inspection and maintenance work, and immediately informed the government of the matter.

The Jamuna Bridge, so far the longest one in the country, was constructed at a cost of around Tk 4,000 crore by the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company of South Korea under the 'design and build' contract in keeping with the criteria prepared by RPT-NEDECO-BCL, the consultant for the project.

In March 2006, the communications ministry formed a seven-member committee headed by Jamilur Reza Choudhury, now vice-chancellor of the BRAC University, to find out the cause(s) of the cracks. At the recommendation of the committee, a Bureau of Research, Testing and Consultation team of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology was appointed by the bridge authorities to carry out a detailed analysis of the cracks, including a 3-dimensionl finite element analysis.

The committee found 17 types of cracks in the bridge of which 15 were detected during the construction period. Earlier records showed that there were cracks in the top and bottom slabs and in the webs of box girders and expansion joints (hinge segment) at the initial stage.

The cracks were repaired during the construction and also after the commissioning of the bridge. The number, length and width of the cracks, however, kept increasing in the course of time. The committee concluded that the cracks in the superstructure were mainly due to temperature and shrinkage stresses. The reinforcement provided in the deck-slab appears to be inadequate in preventing the formation of cracks.

Hyundai also submitted a report to the BBA, and after being requested by the bridge authorities, JM Barr, chief bridge engineer of the High Point Rendel (formerly RPT-NEDECO-BCL) inspected the Jamuna Bridge and submitted a 'bridge deck surfacing report' to the authorities. Regarding the repairing cost of the cracks, the bridge officials said a board meeting earlier in December resolved that responsibility for the repairs of the cracks in the bridge would be determined by the law ministry, keeping in view which organisation would be responsible for it as per the agreement.

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