Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has smelt a rat centering on the inauguration of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge.
"Recent fire accidents might be act of sabotage. Intelligence has such information too. An investigation is going on. There was a threat of sabotage centering on the inauguration of the Padma Bridge. We still have such a threat," he said.
The Minister came up with the remark as a series of fire accidents have taken place across the country, including Sitakunda, Sylhet-bound trains, and ferries, just after the announcement of the government's plan to open Padma Bridge for traffic on June 25.
In response to the World Bank's cancellation of funds for the Padma Bridge, Quader stated that the construction of the bridge is retaliation for the World Bank's insulting us by cancelling the fund by raising graft allegations.
"The Padma Bridge is a reflection of our capacity and ability. It is an outcome of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's courage. There is no contribution of anyone," he said. Mentioning that the premier has given a reply to the world by constructing Padma Bridge, Quader said that ours is a nation of heroes and there is no place for corruption in Bangladesh.
While replying to another query, the minister said the government will invite BNP chief Khaleda Zia, Noble Laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus, and the World Bank president to the inaugural function of the Padma Bridge on June 25.
"The invitations will start going out from Thursday. The ministry’s foreign wings will communicate with the international guests," he said.
The minister said the loan taken by the Bridges Division from the Ministry of Finance to build the Padma Bridge will be repaid in the next 35 years.
"The Bridge Division has taken a loan from the Finance Ministry for the construction of the bridge worth Tk30,000 crore. A total of TK 36,000 crore will be paid over 35 years at 1% interest. The loan will be repaid in a total of 140 installments with four installments per year," he said.
The toll rate has been fixed considering the issue of loan repayment, he added.
In response to another question, Manjur Hossain, secretary of the bridge department, stated that both manual and automatic toll collection arrangements will be in place.
An Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system will be used in one of the six lanes, and in the other lanes, it will be collected manually. It will take six months to launch the ETC system. Toll can be collected instantly through the system," he said.
Chief Whip Noor-e-Alam Chowdhury, state minister for shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, deputy minister for water resources AKM Enamul Haque Shamim, AL central leaders Mirza Azam, SM Kamal Hossain, Ashim Kumar Ukil, Biplab Barua, Iqbal Hossain Apu, Anwar Hossain, Shahabuddin Farazi and Nahim Razzaq, among others, were present.