1 Jul 2012

Funding for bridge in Bangladesh cancelled

7:06 am on 1 July 2012

The World Bank has pulled out of a project to build a 6km bridge in Bangladesh, citing concerns about corruption.

It is cancelling a $US1.2 billon credit for a road-rail bridge over the Padma River.

In a statement, the bank accused the government in Dhaka of failing to investigate claims of high-level fraud in connection with the project.

Bangladeshi Communications Minister Obaidul Quader said it was unfortunate that the World Bank had decided to pull out while the government was conducting an investigation into the allegations.

He said the government would approach other partners or friendly nations to build the bridge.

The World Bank said it had provided evidence of corruption from two investigations to the government last September, asking it to suspend officials suspected of corruption.

It also said it sent a high-level team to Dhaka to fully explain its position on the issue.

The BBC reports the Padma bridge project would connect the principal sea ports in Bangladesh and link to the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway.

At present all traffic across the Padma has to rely on ferries, which are infrequent and often unsafe.