A bridge with national dignity and pride25 June 2022
Liton Chandro Sarkar :
Bangladesh's much awaited Padma Bridge is going to be inaugurated today. Padma Bridge is a multi-purpose road and railway-bridge built on the Padma River in Bangladesh. Construction of the 6.15 km long and 18.10 m wide bridge started on December 7, 2014.The completion of this bridge will fulfil the long-cherished dream of the nation for connecting the 21 south-western districts with the rest of the country resulting in collective prosperity, socioeconomic development of Bangladesh as well as enhanced regional connectivity.The dream project was "entirely funded" by the Government of Bangladesh, while construction firms from both Bangladesh and abroad were engaged for the completion of the project. The project cost approximately $3.9 billion.
Padma is a very strong and strange river. It is one of the most turbulent rivers in the world. It is the second after the Amazon in South America in terms of the water flow. No bridge has ever been built over such a turbulent river and so, the 'Padma Multipurpose Bridge' is one of the major structures in the world. The construction of the bridge on the mighty Padma River was a multifaceted challenge due to its diverse currents, speed, nature and depth. When its width decreases, its depth increases. Natural calamities like cyclones might hit the Padma, and so the bridge must be strong enough to sustain the impacts. The bridge has been built keeping all kinds of disasters in mind. Dredging has been done up to 60 feet at the bottom of the Padma River as the soils on the river bed shift quickly. Bangladesh government has brought the largest dredging machine of the world. It's not an easy task to accomplish. So, no compromise had been made on quality.
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. Bangladesh government established the truth by firmly confronting the conspiracy that was spread at the birth of the bridge.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 Bangladesh government to build Padma Bridge. Canadian court, however, didn't find any proof of the Padma bridge bribery conspiracy. Padma Bridge is proof of Bangladesh's ability to move forward by tackling all conspiracies. The construction was in full swing when Corona's attack started. But the work did not stop even for a single day. Work on the Padma Bridge has moved forward by confronting Corona. The Padma Bridge bears the signature of Sheikh Hasina's visionary leadership. The world got a chance to know once again the capacity of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a country that has repeatedly shown its capabilities. 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.
The south-eastern districts of the country were isolated for a long time because of the Padma River and no industrial establishments were formed due to a lack of communication. The ferry crossing is a nightmare for business communication as it involves a lot of suffering including being stranded at the ferry ghat for days, loss of goods, and cancellation of shipments.The multipurpose bridge will make the journey easier for commuters and freight vehicles, and gradually boost the country's GDP by 1.2 to 2.5 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. The construction of Sheikh Hasina Nakshipalli, apparel factories, cold storage, gas stations, and industrial parks are going on in full swing with promises of new jobs for the unemployed. Expanding local business and trade, the bridge is expected to significantly boost the national economy.
Now industrialists started to rethink their plans once the progress of the Padma Bridge construction became visible. Several industry owners started buying land for the construction of factories in the area. After developing the land, they have now begun construction work of infrastructure. Sheikh Hasina Nakshipalli is being developed on 120 acres of land in the Naodoba and Kutubpur areas of Shibcharupazila at the Jajira end of Shariatpur. In the first phase, the construction of boundary wall and land development work is nearing completion at Tk307.45 crore. The infrastructure building will start in the second phase.Bangladesh Handloom Board is implementing the handloom village project intending to create employment for weavers, improve product quality, as well as boost the supply of textiles in the international market. Aside from building loom sheds, schools, mosques, and playgrounds will also be constructed.
The bridge is deeply connected with economics, culture and social phenomenon. After opening the bridge, the country's economy will rise. There will be massive development in agriculture sector. The bridge will create a ground breaking chapter in the transportation of agricultural commodities from the southwestern region to the capital and other districts. 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. It could become a part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There will be a revolution in the field of communication and transportation. The Padma Bridge is expected to create demand for thousands of commercial vehicles worth at least $500 million in the next five years. A leading commercial vehicle company's insight reveals that the industry expects to sell nearly 700 large buses this year alone, to new and existing fleet owners, targeting several dozen direct highway routes between the capital and the south-western Bangladesh connected by the Padma Bridge.
The biggest revolution that southwestern Bangladesh awaits is industrialisation. With gas supplies through the pipeline, Khulna division is likely to emerge as the next hotspot for industrialisation in the country, while greater Faridpur and Barisal also will see an expansion of industries following the connectivity process coming into place. 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. 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 fascinating and eye-catching. 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.
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. Today or tomorrow, Padma Bridge is expected to give a big boost to trade and commerce in the economy of Bangladesh especially south-western part of the country, but to tap the full potential, it is necessary to create a business-friendly environment and set up environment-friendly industries in a planned manner.Bangladesh's capacity has been recognized due to its own mega projects like the Padma Bridge. We have talents. Our knowledge is no less than others. Padma bridge was a learning experience for the whole nation. If we can learn from this, establish other megaprojects efficiently and capitalise on the expected effects of them, Bangladesh will be able to have a burgeoning economy and a bright future.
(Liton Chandro Sarkar is Deputy Inspector of Colleges, Bangladesh University of Professional).