Chinese, Korean majors vie to build $2.7-bn Mumbai trans-harbour bridge

24 March 2017

Chinese, Korean and Japanese construction majors are teaming up with Indian companies including Larsen & Toubro Ltd and the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, to bid for a contact to build the Mumbai trans-harbour link, one of India's largest engineering projects.

China's second-largest construction company, China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co Ltd, is competing with at least six international builders, including two each from Japan and Korea, for $2.7 billion worth of contracts to build the largest road bridge in India.

Besides the Chinese company, the 22-kilometer Mumbai Trans Harbour Link has attracted bids from Japan's IHI Infrastructure System Co Ltd, and Korea's Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co and SK Engineering & Construction Co Ltd among others, according to UPS Madan, the chief of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

The global construction majors have bid in partnership with Indian companies, including Larsen & Toubro Ltd and the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, he said.

The linkage will spread growth to the mainland, de-congest heavy Mumbai traffic, and cut travel time.

The project, which will cut travel time between the island city and its mainland suburbs, was first conceived about 40 years ago, according to Madan, but was delayed for various reasons.

The country's financial capital is throttled by traffic congestion and the 20 million people who live in and around Mumbai live in fear of hours-long traffic jams. The trans-harbour link is an integral part of the plan to develop a better transport system in the metropolis.

''Fortunately, it has come to a stage where now it is going to take off,'' Madan said. The project will bring economic development to the so far underdeveloped eastern suburbs of Mumbai and reduce the load on infrastructure in other parts, he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the trans-harbor link in December. The bridge will also offer connectivity to a new airport planned in Navi Mumbai district and to the manufacturing hub of Pune. On completion, it will be the longest road and sea bridge in India.

The trans-harbor link will cost about Rs17,800 crore ($2.7 billion), with nearly 85 per cent of that coming from the Japan International Cooperation Agency as a soft loan to be repaid over 30 years, Madan said.

He expects tenders to be finalized in April and work to begin this year given all the regulatory approvals have been received. The agency plans to complete construction by 2021.

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