The World Bank has suspended a $1.2bn loan to Bangladesh to carry out the Padma Bridge project following allegations of irregularity in the bidding process.

The 6.15km bridge was planned to be built over Padma River at Mawa-Janjira point to link south-western Bangladesh with the central Dhaka region.

World Bank Bangladesh country director chief Ellen Goldstein told AFP by email that: "We will not proceed until we are fully satisfied on the fraud and corruption front".

Bangladesh finance minister AMA Muhith said the government had ordered investigation in the graft charges.

Muhith said the bank had "temporarily halted" funding after making "allegations that there could be corruption in the tender process".

The two-level steel truss composite bridge will have a top deck to accommodate a four-lane highway and lower deck to accommodate a future single-track railway.

The project also includes 12km of approach roads designed to transform the country’s isolated southern region.

The bridge project was expected to cost $2.9bn and is scheduled to be operational in 2014.