Allocation of huge maintenance for Bangabandhu Bridge afterwards the opening.

Bangabandhu Bridge, the second largest bridge in the country, will later this year undergo the biggest maintenance work since its opening 26 years ago. Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) will replace all the pot bearings, a vital element for load transmission, on the 4.8km bridge. It has already selected a joint-venture firm in China to carry out the work, which is considered very critical and time-consuming, at a cost of Tk 128.47 crores, said sources.”The bridge authority wants to carry out the job while keeping the crucial bridge fully functional. But it may have to suspend vehicle movement for some time,” an official said.

The move came around three years after BBA decided to replace the bearings after it was found that 45 percent of pot bearings had problems.The bridge on the Jamuna River, which was opened to traffic in June 1998, is a vital strategic economic road, rail, energy, and telecommunication link between the northern and southern parts of the country.

Pot bearings are a special type of bridge bearing used for transmission of loads from superstructures to piers and to absorb vibration caused by vehicle movement, experts said.Italian company FIP Industrial supplied the pot bearings and as per the bridge maintenance manual, the service life of the bearings is between 20 and 30 years, shows BBA documents.

China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) — BBA’s operator for maintenance and operation of Bangabandhu Bridge — in a report to BBA in 2021 said around 45 percent of 112 bearings’ pads on the bridge had problems.A BBA board discussed the issue in September 2021 and decided to replace the bearings, shows the document.

Quazi Muhammad Ferdous, chief engineer of BBA, said the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) last week approved a proposal to hire a joint venture firm to replace pot bearings.

The companies are CCCC, Second Harbor Engineering Company Ltd and China Road and Bridge Corporation, according to document.

The firm will get Tk 128.47 crore for supply, installation, testing, and commissioning of pot bearings and shock transmission devices on the bridge, it shows.

Ferdous said they will sign a contract with the firm once they get the written approval of CCGP.

The replacement work is supposed to be completed within one and a half years, he said, adding, “But it may take a little more time given the complex nature of the work.”Asked when the work may start, he said it may take up to six months as the contractor, after signing deals, has to collect the bearings and start replacement.He said the bridge had gone through some repair work. “But replacement of all the pot bearings of the bridge will be the biggest maintenance work on the bridge since its opening,” he told yesterday.

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