Dhaka delays closing bid on huge Jica project over security concerns
Tribune Desk Report

The project is expected to cost about about $6.7bn, and 80% of the amount is to be funded by the Japanese government’s yen loans

Bangladesh has postponed the closing bid for a large-scale project funded by Japan’s official development assistance in the wake of the terrorist attack on a restaurant in Dhaka earlier this month that left 20 hostages, including seven Japanese, dead, Japan Times reported Thursday quoting sources.

The closing bid for the project that includes building state-of-the-art coal-fired power plants had been scheduled for late July, but the government determined that safety measures for Japanese companies bidding for the work need to be reinforced, the sources said.

The project is expected to cost about about $6.7bn, and 80% of the amount is to be funded by the Japanese government’s yen loans. It would be the biggest official development assistance (ODA) project yet for Bangladesh.

The bidding process will resume after the situation in Bangladesh stabilises and security authorities have prepared sufficient anti-terrorism measures, the sources said.

On July 1, armed Islamist militants entered Holey Artisan Bakery in the upscale section of the Bangladeshi capital and took customers and staff hostage. Police stormed the restaurant the following day and shot the perpetrators dead.

The 20 hostages who were killed included people from Japan, Italy and India. Two local police officers also died in the incident, for which the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility.

Bangladesh has been working on improving its infrastructure systems amid rapid economic growth on exports of needlework, but there have been increasing safety concerns due to terrorist attacks targeting foreigners.

The closing bid for the ODA project had originally been scheduled on July 24. Two finalist groups of Japanese companies, including Toshiba Corp and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd, were expected to place bids.

The project involves constructing two 600-megawatt coal-fired power plants in Matarbari, Cox’s Bazar and building a deep-sea port there for carrying in coal.

Japan and Bangladesh agreed on the construction plan in 2014. Under the original schedule, the first plant was supposed to be completed in 2024.

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