AIIB approves $260M loan for Bangladesh’s steel bridge


The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved a 260million dollars loan to Bangladesh for the construction of the country’s first arch steel bridge.

The Kewatkhali Bridge would substantially ease congestion in the northern city of Mymensingh by diverting traffic from the busy city centre, the Beijing-based lender said in a statement posted on Tuesday.

Moreover, it said the new bridge would be part of the Dhaka-Mymensingh-India border corridor, which was strategically important for local and regional connectivity.

Once completed, according to AIIB, over 11 million people in Bangladesh’s northern region would benefit from increased mobility and integration of local and regional markets.

It said, the bridge would also shorten the travel time for people and vehicles, and contributed to the reduction of carbon emissions.

“As in other river delta environments, bridges play a strategic role in Bangladesh’s transport network.

“AIIB considers the financing of the Kewatkhali Bridge at Mymensingh an opportunity to use the latest technology in bridge maintenance and management to improve its structural performance, service life and the safety of the bridge for residents and motorists,’’ said AIIB Senior Investment Operations Specialist Natalia Sanz.

The project included a proposed Bridge Health Monitoring System (BHMS), which, Sanz explains, would be used to provide early warnings of structural damage in the main bridge.

Data on load and environmental effects, as well as the bridge responses, would be captured in real time and interfaced with a bridge rating system, allowing for more efficient monitoring and would help in formulating a systematic approach to periodic inspection.

“By studying the changes observed in bridge conditions over time, engineers can develop models to distinguish the effects of maintenance activity from normal wear and tear.

“State-of-the-art work in this area includes deepening our understanding of physical deterioration processes, especially the effect of structural damage on the reliability and performance of structural components,’’ Sanz said.

Training and institutional development of the national roads and Highways Department on the maintenance and operation of an arch steel bridge and on the use of the BHMS was a core component of the project.