Govt to move int'l court to realise repair cost
Friday, 29 February 2008

CRACKS IN JAMUNA BRIDGE

Staff Correspondent

The government will move the international court for realising the cost of repairing the cracks that have developed in the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge from the Hyundai Corporation if faulty design is found to be responsible for the cracks, said the communications adviser.

The government on Tuesday selected a Hong Kong-based consulting firm, Angel Lazaro & Associates, to identify the causes for the cracks that have developed since the construction of the bridge.

Angel Lazaro will complete the work in two phases within a year and a half after signing the agreement. The 4.8 km Jamuna Multipurpose 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.

The Jamuna Bridge was opened to traffic in June 1998. 'We will go to the international court to sue Hyundai if the reason for the cracks is faulty design of the bridge,' said Golam Qader, adviser to the communications ministry, on Wednesday at a press conference.

On February 25 the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, which maintains the large bridges throughout the country, requested the communications ministry to take the matter to the international court to determine the responsibility of the Hyundai in this regard.

Qader said the government would start the process to move the international court after getting the report from the consulting firm as the cost of litigation would be very high. Khan Mohammad Ibrahim Hossain, executive director of the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, said that Hyundai refused to bear the responsibility although a committee, headed by vice-chancellor of BRAC University Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury, in December 2006 identified 'design deficiency' as the reason for the cracks.

The bridge authority wrote several letters to Hyundai after getting the Jamilur-led committee's report, asking it to take responsibility for the cracks, but Hyundai refused to take the blame in October 2007, saying that differential temperature was the main reason for the numerous cracks in the bridge.

Ibrahim said that according to the agreement with Hyundai, the designer of the bridge would be responsible for any faults in the bridge within 10 years of issuing the maintenance certificate. 'The certificate was issued in 2003 and, as per the agreement, Hyundai will be responsible for repairing the cracks as the contract was design and build in nature,' said the chief of the bridge authority.

Moreover, the law officer of the communications ministry in August 2007, after examining the agreement, also said that Hyundai would have to bear the cost of repair. According to the officials of the bridge authority, around Tk 100 crore will be needed to repair the cracks.

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. CHT invaded by hordes of rats eating up all crops

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