Auckland firm to design $3b bridge

By Anne Gibson

An Auckland engineering firm has won the contract to design a US$1.5 billion ($2.9 billion) Bangladesh bridge.

Maunsell AECOM NZ Newmarket office scored the job for the Padma Bridge, which is to be Bangladesh's largest and connect the south-west region with the country's capital Dhaka.

Dean Kimpton, Maunsell's regional director in Auckland, said his firm would work on the contract with Maunsell in Hong Kong.

The 5.5km long bridge from Mawa to Jajira will carry a railway line, 500kV power supply cables, communications infrastructure and a major gas pipeline. It will cut travel times by several hours.

Most of the US$1.5 billion to fund its design and construction is from the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and Japan Bank of International Corporation.

The Bangladesh Government will also foot part of the bill.

Syed Abul Hossain, Bangladesh's Communications Minister, said the bridge would be a huge economic boost.

"The gross domestic product of the south-west will increase by 2 per cent," he said.

The project for preparing the bridge design is expected to be finished in 22 months.

Daniel Wrigley, marketing and communications co-ordinator at Maunsell AECOM's Auckland office, said the contract was signed last week and his office would work with colleagues in Sydney, Hong Kong and Melbourne.

The job would be run from the Newmarket office and no further staff were needed, he said, because the firm was part of an international engineering consultancy business which employed about 42,000 people.

"We'll be calling on our experts from all around the world but managing this from Newmarket. We have a pretty good track record on international jobs out of our Auckland office," he said.

In a separate deal, the office also won the bid for the management and supervision of a new gas-powered 360-megawatt combined cycle power plant at Haripur, 22km south-east of Dhaka. That four-year project will see the Auckland office help the Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh design and specify all machinery and equipment.

Maunsell's partners are SNC-Lavalin International of Canada and SMEC International of Australia as well as a business in the United States and another in Bangladesh.

The office also won the contract to design Bangladesh's 1.7km Paksey Bridge in the north-west which includes 1.2km of approach roads and 15km of connecting roads to provide a link between the eastern and western regions.

Maunsell also won a contract to design premises to run Bangladesh's national power supply grid as well as other hydro-electric power jobs in Asia, including Nepal.

The firm has offices in Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch and has been in business for 90 years, trading previously as Worley and Meritec.

- NZ Herald

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