The much-coveted Padma Bridge project is gradually reaching the finishing line as the construction work is underway round the clock despite the ongoing lockdown.
It was possible to lay 110 roadway slabs on the bridge’s upper deck in July. At the end of July, 2,831 out of 2,917 road slabs have been laid, according to project officials.
“Despite the strict lockdown, the work of Padma Bridge is going on in full swing with maintaining health guidelines,” said Syed Rajab Ali, an Executive Engineer of the Padma Bridge Project.
Installation of all the road slabs is expected to end this month if the current pace of work continues, project officials said. Asphalt carpeting on the road slabs may start from September, they said.
Construction of railway superstructure is also close to the finishing line as installation of all the 2,959 railway slabs ended on 12 June this year.
Work of installing the gas pipeline, construction of parapet wall and divider are still to be completed, Rajab ali said, adding: “We hope that opening of the bridge to the traffic would be possible within the existing deadline, once all the work is complete.”
Project Director Shafiqul Islam said construction of the parapet wall of railing is running behind the schedule and it has so far advanced 30 per cent so far. “We hope that this work will also gain pace from this month.”
The most important development of the project was that the installation of all the 41 steel truss spans was complete on December 10 last year, which was a major challenge for the project.
The government has recently approved a bridge division’s proposal to extend the project deadline to June 23, 2022, the founding anniversary of the Awami League government. The deadline of the project has been extended several times. The project was supposed to end last December marking the golden jubilee of the country's independence. But the coronavirus pandemic slowed the progress.
The project work gathered pace after the Chinese nationals returned to work in May last year.
The 6.15km megastructure is being built on the mighty river Padma at a cost of over Tk 300 billion from the country’s own resources to establish a direct road and rail link between Dhaka and 21 south and south-western districts.
The project had to overcome a myriad of problems, including financing tussle with the World Bank, technical issues like soft soil problem on some pier points and natural problems like corona crisis and strong current in the river during the rainy season.
The construction started in November 2014. It is expected to boost the country's gross domestic product by 1.2 per cent.