With the inauguration of the bridge
built on Bangladesh’s own funds less than a month away, Mashiur said on
Saturday the donor agencies, including the World Bank, offered him consultancy
abroad if he relinquished his responsibilities in the project.
The then communications minister Syed
Abul Hossain resigned and the former secretary to the Bridges Division was put
on forced leave after the World Bank brought the allegations.
Speaking at a programme of the ruling
Awami League, Mashiur said he had not agreed to step down following the World
Bank’s demand. He thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for backing him.
Mashiur recalled officials of the World
Bank and others who proposed to finance the project, such as the Asian
Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency, had sought a
meeting with him at the Embassy of Japan in Dhaka amid the tug-of-war over the
He said he refused to meet them at the
embassy because it would send a wrong message to the people that he had bowed
down to the pressure.
Finally, the officials met him at his
office and said he must give up the Padma Bridge role and leave Bangladesh, he
“In exchange for that, they offered me
consultancy at the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank or somewhere else
and the exact amount of salary I want. They also offered me a job at any
“My response was that I could’ve made
the money they offered if I was engaged in corruption as they had alleged.
Their proposal was inconsistent. They wanted to reward the person they
Mashiur said his friends and Awami
League leaders also advised him to leave the country.
“I must say now how I mustered the
courage to hold firm…I said I wouldn’t leave the country because I’d have lost
the ground under my feet had I done so.”
Mashiur did not try to hold back
emotions as he spoke. “The prime minister gave me courage,” he said, with his
eyes filled with tears. “I’ll be safe until the shadow of Bangabandhu protects
Mashiur said it would not be possible
for Bangladesh to build the bridge without Hasina’s wit and courage. After the
World Bank rolled back the funds, Hasina announced Bangladesh would construct
the bridge with its own funds.