Fri, 23 Apr 2021

Dhaka [Bangladesh], February 26 (ANI): The Bangladesh Railways Ministry on Thursday dismissed allegations made by China Railway Group Ltd (CREC), the contractor for the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project (PBRLP), that a fund crisis had slowed down the implementation of the project, reported Dhaka Tribune.

"We are the authority that will respond to any allegations brought by the contractor. However, CREC has yet to inform us of any delays in payments. If such an issue truly exists, they must inform us, not the media," said Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan.

"Besides, CREC has told the project director that it did not issue any press release regarding any fund crisis related to the project," said the minister.

The Padma Bridge Rail Link Project is reportedly a part of Beijing's debt-trap diplomacy. Beijing has been bankrolling a large number of infrastructure projects in several countries in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region as well as in Africa, as part of its Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI), thus building strategic assets across the continents.

China charges higher interest on its loans and delays projects, stalls infrastructure projects to lead such countries into its 'debt-trap'.

The BRI initiatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping have come under criticism from around the world - for exposing the smaller participating nations to the risks of being caught in debt traps.

Earlier, the Chinese firm on Wednesday had alleged that it has not been paid for work done in the last seven months and this was slowing down work.

"Project execution is naturally slowing down, and project costs are increasing day by day," China Railway, also known as China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC), said in a press release circulated through its PR agency.

The slowdown threatens cost escalation and meeting the deadline. The rail project was approved in March 2016 to connect the capital with Jashore by 2022 with a 169 km rail line over the under-construction Padma bridge at a cost of Taka 34,989 crore.

The cost rose to Taka 39,246 crore and the deadline was extended to 2024 after the first revision of the project, reported The Daily Star. Chinese Exim Bank was supposed to provide Taka 21036.69 crore in loans for the project.

Even though construction work started in July 2018, the project is still facing several challenges that could adversely impact its cost and duration, according to Bangladesh Railways documents. (ANI)

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