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Story of Bangladesh’s Padma Bridge: More than just a bridge?

By :dailytimes.com.pk
Published : Jun 08, 2022 05:16:00 PM | Opinion

Bangladesh’s much anticipated Padma Bridge is going to be inaugurated on June 25 this year. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed will inaugurate the long-awaited bridge at 10:00 am. The commuters of 21 districts of the southwest part of the country cross the Padma River via ferries through the country’s Banglabazar-Shimulia route. Passengers and drivers have to suffer from long traffic jams. When functional, it will be the largest bridge in Bangladesh and the first fixed river crossing for road traffic. The two-level steel truss bridge will carry a four-lane highway on the upper level and a single-track railway on the lower level.

As the Padma Bridge, the dream of millions in the south is going to be inaugurated next month, the miseries of people would end soon. The multipurpose bridge will make the journey easier for commuters and freight vehicles, and gradually boost the country’s GDP by 1.3 to two per cent. The Padma Bridge, which is designed in two tiers with steel-truss composite keeping road on the top and rail below, is the deepest foundation bridge in the world. After inaugurating the Padma Bridge on the east side on June 25, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will address a mammoth rally on the other side of the river, her first public appearance in the southwestern part of the country since late 2018.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the epitome of her country’s development, showed confidence and foresight by creating a world example like Padma Bridge. She had to walk on the path of huge obstacles but she has reached her destination. She established the truth by firmly confronting the conspiracy that was spread at the birth of the bridge. The Padma Bridge bears the signature of Ms Hasina’s visionary leadership. The world got a chance to know once again the capacity of Bangladesh in the Hasina era. Bangladesh is a country that has repeatedly shown its capabilities.

 

The World Bank withdrew its pledge on false charges of corruption, and other donors followed suit. The future of the Padma Bridge was under a threat and the construction work on the Padma Bridge became uncertain. Critics then burst out laughing, creating a flurry of negative comments that it would not be possible for Hasina to build Padma Bridge. Canadian court, however, didn’t find any proof of the Padma bridge bribery conspiracy. The then communications minister Abul Hossain had to resign from the cabinet. This was the beginning picture of the construction of the Padma Bridge. But after the construction work started, a great challenge came up. Bold and groundbreaking engineering skills were required in river governance and piling. At the same time, construction costs continue to rise.

The construction was in full swing when Corona’s attack started. But the work did not stop even for a single day due to the indomitable will of Sheikh Hasina Wajed. Work on the Padma Bridge has moved forward by tackling Corona. When everyone saw that the work of the bridge was progressing under her leadership, some dishonest conspirators started spreading rumours. Rumours were spread that a man’s head would be needed to build bridges. The government has also dealt with it efficiently. It is not only the Padma Bridge that is being built due to the indomitable will of Sheikh Hasina but also the work of Metro Rail and the country’s biggest tunnel is nearing completion. They will be open to the public this year. Many other projects including the Rooppur nuclear power plant, Matarbari project, construction of Bangabandhu Railway Bridge over river Jamuna, construction of Pyra seaport, and construction of Bangabandhu industrial city are remarkable. But the construction of the Padma Bridge was the most challenging of all. The Padma Bridge is not just a bridge but a great asset to the country.

Padma Bridge is a multi-purpose road and railway bridge built over the Padma River in Bangladesh. The southwestern part of the country will be connected to the north-eastern part. Construction of the 6.15 km long and 18.10 m wide bridge started on December 7, 2014.

 

Today, the Padma Bridge is visible. The bridge of pride stands today. As a result of the construction of the Padma Bridge with its own money, the economic potential and image of Bangladesh have been established all over the world. A bold decision by the Prime Minister has earned him international recognition as a self-confident, determined statesman. Bangladesh’s economic progress, continuous GDP growth, and improvement of Bangladesh’s position in various social indicators are recognised internationally today. The sacrifices made by the Prime Minister for this bridge, and the success of the implementation of the Padma Bridge project have made that sacrifice justified.

Initially, the construction cost was low, but later it increased a few points and stood at USD 3.868 Billion. Both construction time and construction costs increased. Although there are differing views on construction costs, the most promising thing is that the bridge has been completed and will be open to the public in June.

The bridge is deeply connected with politics, economics, culture and social phenomenon. Building the bridge was a major political challenge for Bangladesh. After opening the bridge, the country’s economy will rise. The structure of the country’s economy will change. There will be massive development in agriculture. The bridge will create a groundbreaking chapter in the transportation of agricultural commodities from the southwestern region to the capital. Farmers will get good prices for their produce. Extensive industrialization will take place in the southwestern region of the country centred on the Padma Bridge.

The Padma Bridge could become a part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There will be a revolution in the field of communication and transportation. The development of the tourism industry will be achieved through the bridge. A 6-lane expressway has been constructed at the country’s Munshiganj and Shariatpur sections of the bridge which is very eye-catching and captivating. This bridge will play a unique role in the field of culture. Resorts, hotels and restaurants will be built around this bridge where Bengali food will be served which will make Bengali culture more familiar to foreigners. The Padma Bridge will increase the country’s GDP and increase per capita income.

This bridge will further strengthen the rail link with the southwestern part of the country. People will be able to travel comfortably in a short time from Dhaka. Various business establishments will be built around the bridge and the standard of living of the people of the South West will be multiplied If the name of Padma Bridge is pronounced, the name of Sheikh Hasina Wajed should be pronounced. Although it is not named after her, people will know from generation to generation that this bridge was made possible because of her.

Sheikh Hasina has taken the great challenge of Padma Bridge and won. Bangladesh has already become a developing country. Padma Bridge will take the country faster. This bridge will play a unique role in taking Bangladesh to the line of developed countries. The decision of building the much-awaited Padma Multipurpose Bridge, which is set to open for traffic on June 25, brightened the country’s image in the world and also accelerated the nation’s confidence.

 

The writer is an educator, and researcher. Her areas of interest are foreign relations of Afghanistan-Pakistan-India-Bangladesh-Nepal-Bhutan and Sri Lanka. She can be contacted at drmalikeabidakhattak@gmail.com