A £70mn bridge project backed by UK export credit agency ECGD is giving an economic boost to northeastern Bangladesh by easing a major transport bottleneck.

Civil engineering company Edmund Nuttall Ltd, based in Camberley, Surrey, designed and built the 1.2km-long concrete bridge across the river Meghna between Bhairab and Ashuganj. The project took 33 months to complete and now offers a speedy river crossing to commercial traffic that had been forced to rely on overstretched ferry services.

The bridge has now been renamed the Bangladesh-UK Friendship Bridge to mark the UK contribution to the project.

ECGD underwrote a £17.8mn loan (arranged by Standard Chartered Bank) to the Bangladeshi Ministry of Finance towards the total cost of the project. The Department for International Development contributed £21.7mn to the overall cost of the bridge, £17.8 of which was financial aid and £3.9mn technical assistance.

International Trade Minister Baroness Symons says: “The involvement of ECGD and DFID in the construction of this bridge is evidence of this government’s commitment to sustainable development.

“The decision to rename it the Bangladesh-UK Friendship Bridge is a clear acknowledgement of the vital role the UK played in making the project possible.

“I am pleased that ECGD was able to give support to Edmund Nuttall Ltd in this case a good example of the work the department can do to help UK exporters in overseas markets.”

More than 2,000 local workers and 450 subcontractor staff were involved in the construction of the Bhairab Bridge, with 50 employees from Edmund Nuttall directly managing the project.

Peter Bishop, of Edmund Nuttall, says: “We are delighted that the Bridge has proved to be such a success both with its users and with the government of Bangladesh. ECGD support played an important role in helping us secure the project and the expertise we have developed over the last three years will be a great asset to the company in future work.”

Keith Garner, of Standard Chartered Bank, adds: “Standard Chartered was very pleased to have been associated with this important project, not only with the provision of the ECGD supported loan, but by also providing Edmund Nuttall with local banking facilities through our Dhaka office.”

Visit www.edmund-nuttall.co.uk and www.ecgd.gov.uk