June 25 is set to be another historic and memorable day for the Bengali nation as the long-awaited Padma Bridge is going to be inaugurated on this day. As long as the Bengali nation exists in the heart of the world, this day will be shining. One hundred eighty million people of Bangladesh are eagerly waiting to become a witness to this august moment. Bangalees all over the world, including the United States, are also looking forward to the grand opening of the bridge.
The Padma Bridge, a multipurpose road-rail bridge, has been constructed over the Padma River, the main distributary of the Ganges. The Bangladesh's largest bridge and the first fixed river crossing for road traffic will connect Munshiganj district to Shariatpur and Madaripur districts, linking the southwest of the country to northern and eastern regions. It will drastically shorten the journey time benefitting trade and millions of people.
On the day of the inauguration, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, worthy daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, will join a civic rally on Mawa side at 10 am. She will then pay toll and unveil the plaque of the bridge there. She will later cross the bridge in a car and unveil another plaque on the Zajira side. Later in the afternoon, the prime minister will address a mammoth public meeting at Shibchar in Madaripur.
One of the major election pledges of Awami League, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge is considered to be the most challenging construction project in the history of Bangladesh. The two-level steel truss bridge carries a four-lane highway on the upper level and a single track railway on a lower level. The bridge is the longest bridge in Bangladesh, and is the longest over the Ganges in terms of both span and total length. The highest depth of pile of this bridge is 122 metres, which is the longest among all other bridges. The bridge will also have a 760 mm dia gas transmission line, 150 mm dia fiber optic & telephone duct, high voltage electric line, platform in river over pile foundation at two km downstream of the main bridge.
To make the day memorable, all out preparations have been made by the government as well as the ruling Awami League and its associate bodies. The Awami League has planned to gather at least one million people at the public meeting in Shibchar. The Bangalees living in every corner of the globe, including the United States, will also hold various programmes, including joyous rallies to celebrate the historic occasion. Bangladesh missions abroad will celebrate the day through different programmes.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this self-funded Padma Bridge is the biggest achievement of the country since the independence of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971 under the undisputed leadership of Bangabandhu. This achievement came at the hands of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The Padma Bridge is our pride; it is a symbol of our glory and self-dignity.
After the World Bank withdrew from funding of the Padma Bridge in 2012 over allegations of so-called 'corruption conspiracy', Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a bold announcement to build the bridge with the country's own fund. When many renowned institutions and economists from home and abroad expressed doubts about the construction of Padma Bridge with the country's self-financing, Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina took it as a challenge and remained steadfast in implementing the country's largest infrastructure project without foreign funding.
The Padma Bridge is a 'golden harvest' of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's courage, which has proved the capability and capacity of Bangladesh. By building the bridge, she has shown the whole world that Bangabandhu's Bangladesh has the capacity and capability to implement such a mega project. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has materialised the long-aspired dream of millions of Bangalees across the globe into a reality by completing the work of the bridge with a great success. The proud Bengali nation with profound gratitude will remember her outstanding contribution to the country forever.
According to the economists, the Padma Bridge will revolutionise the country's economy and increase the country's GDP by at least 1.5 per cent. They think that the Padma Multipurpose Bridge will change the economic landscape of the southwest alongside directly connecting the region with the capital and other areas. After the inauguration of the Padma Bridge on June 25, all concerned have expressed hope that the country's foreign trade will further increase through the ports of Mongla and Payra in the southwest of the country. In addition, it will connect many countries in South and Southeast Asia and make significant contributions to various sectors, including communications, trade, industry and tourism.
According to project details, the China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Corporation has constructed the main bridge, while China’s Sinohydro Corporation was appointed for the river training work and Bangladesh’s Abdul Monem Limited was given the contract for the two approach roads and infrastructure construction. Bangladesh Army, BUET and Korea Expressway Corporation and Associates supervised the construction of the bridge.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction work of the bridge on December 12, 2015, while its first span was installed at Zajira point in Shariatpur on October 7, 2017.
Earlier, the prime minister on November 12 in 2013 inaugurated the approach roads on Zajira and Mawa sides as well as the Service Area-2 work.
The pre-feasibility study of the bridge project was conducted by Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) in 1998-1999 with Bangladesh government's fund. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) carried out the feasibility study during 2003-2005.
The detailed design of the bridge was prepared by a team of international and national consultants, including AECOM, SMEC International, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants and ACE Consultants, with additional assistance from Aas-Jakobsen and HR Wallingford.
Padma Bridge At A Glance
Source: Sun Editorial