On Thursday at 12 pm the sun was not yet visible. A blanket of fog was draped over the horizon across the country. Piercing the wintry mist, what emerged over the landscape of the mighty Padma, was a breathtaking beauty to behold. With the installation of the last span of the long-anticipated Padma Bridge, the full structure of the bridge became visible. The country witnessed a history in the making as two sides of the river Padma, spanning over 6.15 kilometres, have been bridged, effectively connecting two parts of the country.
The sheer sight of the bridge is a feast for our eyes because we have longed for it, for so long. Moreover, the construction of the bridge tested the nation’s tolerance, height of aspiration and political courage and determination to achieve so. At one point the whole Padma Bridge Project had become uncertain following the World Bank’s cancellation of a $1.2 billion loan deal raising allegations of corruption. The Awami League government had to absolve a key minister of his duties to convince the lender, but to no avail; although later on an international court found no evidence of corruption in the project.But alas! Vested quarters both inside and outside the country hatched repeated conspiracies to impede the construction of the bridge only to show the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in poor light. However, Sheikh Hasina steadfastly denied any wrongdoing in the project and showed immense courage and determination to fulfil the dream basically without any foreign monetary assistance.
Bangabandhu’s daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina once again proved that nothing can suppress the resilient Bengali nation. As a result of her courage and hard work, the country’s longest bridge took a concrete shape. So, this is not merely a bridge, it is a symbol of the country’s might and resilience. The construction process meant so much that the people waited with bated breath for whatever updates were there, and media reported with great attention to detail.
The government plans to open the bridge by December next year. Once constructed, the bridge will connect the southern and south-western regions with the rest of the country. It will not only make communication faster and easier, but also spur economic activities in greater Barishal region, which is expected to contribute 2 per cent growth to the national economy. The nation is on the cusp of achieving that big dream.