Tuesday, 5 July, 2022
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Another Momentous Year in Bangladesh History

Z A M Khairuzzaman

Another Momentous Year in Bangladesh History
Z A M Khairuzzaman

The year 1971 was a momentous year for Bangladesh as the people of the country achieved independence from Pakistan. Likewise, the ongoing year of 2022 is another momentous year for the country as the much-desired Padma Bridge is going to be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the 25th instant. The day will be remembered as a glorious day in our national life. The joy of this occasion is manifold.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the greatest Bengali of all time, dreamt of an independent Bangladesh and fulfilled this dream through his lifelong struggle, uncompromising leadership, unlimited sacrifice and valiant command, earning a glorious victory in our nine-month War of Liberation in 1971. In 2022 after 50 years of our glorious independence, the Padma Bridge has added a new episode to our history and whose unquestioned author is Bangabandhu's worthy daughter, Sheikh Hasina. The construction of the 'Dream Bridge' with our own financing has been her great endeavor.

However, the long way to the construction of the bridge was full of hurdles. The bridge turned out to be a national challenge when the World Bank refused to finance for the bridge project due to an allegation of corruption though the allegation was proved baseless later on. The highhandedness of the donors put the project at risk. It was a great challenge to restore the country's image. Sheikh Hasina rose to the occasion and declared that Padma Bridge would be constructed with our own resources. She laid the foundation stone of the bridge on July 4, 2001 aiming to improve the living standards of over three crore people of the country’s 21 southwestern districts, including Faridpur, Madaripur, Shariatpur, Khulna, Jashore, Barisal and Patuakhali. Finally, the work of the bridge started in 2015. Workers and engineers worked relentlessly for seven years to complete the 6.15-kilometre bridge which is now ready for commissioning. The entire population of the country extended their whole-hearted support in its building. They are eagerly waiting for its opening. 

By self-financing its construction, the country has proved that it is no longer dependent on foreign funding. The Padma Bridge proves Bangladesh’s capability. It is also a symbol of our economic capacity. The bridge has brightened the country’s image before the world. Bangladesh has changed a lot. The bridge is a confidence-booster for the countrymen. It is a symbol of pride, self-confidence, ability and self-respect for all. Today, the people of the country have gained knowledge on technology. Therefore, it is hoped that in future they will be able to achieve much bigger feats.

The largest ever infrastructure has opened the door to the immense potential of the country. After its inauguration, mills, factories and other business establishments will be developed in the region creating new employment opportunities for local people as well as youths. According to an economic survey, the implementation of the mega project will increase the country’s GDP by at least 1.23 percent per year.

The marvelous infrastructure will open the doors of great potential, especially for the marginalized populations in the southwestern part of the country. Ease of transportation will create new business opportunities for the agricultural and industrial sectors. This will generate a new investment hub for both local and foreign investors. The wider economic opportunities will eventually alleviate poverty, raise living standards and produce intergenerational gains through greater affordability of education and healthcare.

Moreover, the urbanization pressure on Dhaka is likely to reduce as enterprises developed in this part of the country would dampen the frequency of the rural-urban migration caused by the various livelihood prospects in the capital. Hence, investment and employment opportunities in south-western Bangladesh could potentially lead to industrial decentralization and lower population concentration in Dhaka, which could be a key instrument to improving the quality of life in the capital.

The multitude of economic prospects offered by the Padma Bridge mandate the right set of policies targeted towards the most relevant economic actors. Policymakers will need to design and implement business facilitating policies that will boost investor confidence and make business environment conducive to foreign direct investment. Furthermore, policies can result in multiplier effects if youth development is prioritized through ensuring their employment in formal job settings and encouraging the establishment and growth of youth entrepreneurship.

Along with its regional development the bridge will play a significant role to international communication by connecting Bangladesh with Trans-Asian Railways and Highways in future. Transportation of goods to Nepal, Bhutan and the northeast of India will be easy through Mongla and Payra seaports. Moreover, people will have the quick access to standard living that ensures prosperity among the country in all regards. To this end, unquestionably the bridge is going to create a new episode to our history.

The countrymen take this opportunity to express their deepest gratitude to the PM for her bold and visionary leadership. Through successful implementation of ambitious projects like this one, Bangladesh intends to realize the Father of the Nation’s dream of 'Sonar Bangla' (golden Bengal). Today, our nation has advanced fast and will continue its journey towards fulfillment of the dream of Bangabandhu. The country has already emerged as a role model for the developing world. Now, the countrymen should redouble their efforts to play their part in realizing Bangabandhu's dream.

The entire world is witnessing that nothing can stop the country's progress. It is true that behind every success there may be some hurdles, but we are reaching the shore of economic prosperity leaving all odds behind. The country has earned many accolades from international community, particularly from the multilateral development agencies. Even World Bank has portrayed Bangladesh as an exemplary case for economic development.

 

The writer is a columnist. E-mail: [email protected]