Momen demands an apology and compensation from the ‘institution’ that claimed responsibility for Padma Bridge corruption
Photo: Sajjad Hossain/ Star
Photo: Sajjad Hossain/Star
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has demanded an apology and compensation from those who humiliated Bangladesh by accusing some senior officials of plotting corruption in the Padma Bridge project.
“It is time for those who have defamed and humiliated us… those who are incorruptible, to ask for an apology and voluntarily compensate for bad service,” he said in an oblique reference to the World Bank.
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The Minister made the remark during a discussion marking the inauguration of the Padma Bridge at the Foreign Service Academy today.
Joining the discussion virtually from the UK, Momen said it was not right to believe institutions just because they are big. Often they resort to trickery for various purposes, he said.
The $3.6 billion 6.51km bridge over the Padma River is the first such mega project implemented with domestic funds after the World Bank and other lenders in 2012, world leaders withdrew funding for the project following a corruption scandal involving a Canadian. construction company.
Syed Abul Hossain, then Minister of Communication, resigned, while the secretary of the Bridges Division, Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, was suspended and arrested for his alleged involvement in the corruption plot. Fingers were also pointed at the prime minister’s economic affairs adviser, Dr Mashiur Rahman. The bribery charges were later brought to court in Canada, but the allegations were not proven.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina later said to build the bridge with the nation’s own funds and the project was completed and opened on June 25 this year.
“Many of our academics have been dancing to the tune of foreigners. It’s time for them to rethink their outlook,” Momen said.
Addressing the event, Dr Mashiur Rahman said the World Bank had worked inefficiently with regard to the corruption conspiracy allegations.
Mosharraf Hossain Bhuyian, who is now Bangladesh’s ambassador to Germany, said it was not good practice at all for the World Bank to make a major decision based on secret information.
“In fact, it was the time when I told the World Bank that its jurisprudence was weak. This way of working can only humiliate people, not support them,” he said during the event.
He also said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s decision was so right because it was aimed at the welfare of the peoples, the dignity of the nation and above all, motivated by patriotism.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said LDC countries are often trapped in various forms of conditions set by global lenders.
Bangladesh’s success in implementing the Padma Bridge project would be an inspiration to other LDC countries, he also said.
Foreign Minister Masud Bin Momen said the Padma Bridge will strengthen Bangladesh’s position in the regional geopolitical landscape, in addition to enhancing connectivity in South and Southeast Asia.
“We have implemented a number of mega-projects and more are on the way, but now we need to focus on the social mega-infrastructures of education and health, to take full advantage of the projects,” said Dr. Selim Raihan, professor of economics in Dhaka. University.