Thursday, 18 August, 2022

Padma Bridge

Symbol of Indomitable Courage and Pride

Prof. Dr. A.K.M. Zakir Hossain

The dream of a bridge across the Padma River is no longer a dream. The six and a half kilometer long bridge over the Padma River is now fully visible. Counting the days is waiting for the inauguration on 25th June 2022. Those who said that there will be no bridge across the Padma, let them see today that Bengalis can. On the day when the World Bank withdrew from financing the Padma Bridge with false accusations, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu, announced that the Padma Bridge would be built with our own funds. The Padma Bridge is real today. It has brought a different identity of Bangladesh in the world. The world knows the potential of Bengalis and Bangladeshis. Due to the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, deep love for the country, courage and wisdom, all the conspiracies at home and abroad were foiled and the bridge was built across the Padma.

Is it just a bridge? Not at all— it is a symbol of ability of Bengalis. The bridge of once dream now stands across the horizon in sight. Long rows of pillars can be seen from the banks of the Padma. The emotions, hopes and feelings of the hearts of 160 million people are involved with the Padma Bridge. The Padma Bridge is a testament to the indomitable will to overcome challenges. The bridge has opened the door for future economic development of the country. Three more international organizations withdrew after the World Bank's funding decision was overturned in 2012; Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Islamic Development Bank. The next history we know. There is a saying 'blood speaks'. The brave daughter of a brave father ignored all obstacles and finally took up the adventurous challenge of building the Padma Bridge with own funds. The black cloud of the nation's destiny is cut off. The sun of victory rose in the sky of Bangladesh by illuminating the horizon.

The seeds of the dream are sown through the work of building the bridge. Those who did not want to make the dream of Padma Bridge a reality, those who conspired, accused of corruption, came to a standstill on February 10, 2016. On that day, Bangladesh was cleared of stigma by the verdict of Judge Ian Nordeimer of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. All the conspiracies of the wicked are thwarted. Just as the dream Padma Bridge is real today, so is the file number 3-90000626-0000 stored in room 241, 371 University Avenue, Downtown Toronto, Canada. This is because this file is the witness to refute the fabricated allegations of corruption in the Padma Bridge. Falsely accused of corruption, domestic and foreign villains were convinced that the planned construction of the Padma Bridge would never see the light of day. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was adamant in her decision. He wanted to surprise the world.

He was determined to prove that Bengalis can conquer the formidable, make the impossible possible, that Bangladesh also has the capability, that Bangladesh is no longer a bottomless basket. As a result of the indomitable will of the daughter of Bangabandhu, the work of Padma Bridge started on 26 November 2014. Although the deadline for completion of the bridge was fixed in 2016, it was not possible to complete the work on time due to various reasons, including revision of the design of the bridge, flood and erosion. Earlier, the World Bank had said about the role of the Padma Bridge in the country's economy, if the bridge is implemented, the GDP growth rate will increase by 1.2 percent. Poverty alleviation will be zero point 84 percent every year. Through this socio-economic development will change the fate of about 60 million people in 21 districts of the south. Investment will increase. Farmers of 21 districts will directly benefit. The perishable products produced by them can be sent directly to other places of the country, including Dhaka. It will get a good price for the product. Night after night, no one will have to wait for the ferry crossing. Overall, the country's trade and commerce will be accelerated. In particular, Mongla Port can be used to increase international trade. Small and medium-scale industries have already been set up on the other side of the Padma, focusing on the communication facilities of the Padma Bridge. Various development plans, including Olympic Village, Bangabandhu Satellite City, Hi-Tech Park and airport have been taken in Padma Char area. Sheikh Hasina Weaving Village is being set up at a cost of around Tk. 2,000 crore in Naodoba area of Jajira near the Padma Bridge. The government has adopted a master plan to set up industrial establishments in Louhajang of Munshiganj, Kanthalbari of Shibchar in Madaripur, Char Janajat and Jajira areas of Shariatpur adjacent to the Padma Bridge. As a result, the standard of living of the people in these areas will improve.

Those who assumed that a big project like the Padma Bridge would not be possible for Bangladesh to implement alone, are now amazed to see the vision come true under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. This success did not come easily. Apart from financial crisis, challenges in financial management, trust and morale, etc., the government has had to deal with many unexpected problems. In the end, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's strong morale, wisdom and honesty overcame all obstacles. It has been proved once again that just as a Bengali knows how to dream, he/she also knows how to realize that dream. One day Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dreamed of breaking the shackles of subjugation. In return for his visionary leadership and sacrifice, today we are citizens of a free, independent sovereign country. Our Prime Minister has dreamed of a developed Bangladesh. The Padma Bridge is the product of its continuity which is showing the potential of Bengalis in the world today. The country and the people of the country are proud of his tireless efforts. He has shown to eight billion people around the world that "if the goal is intact, faith is in the heart, it must be."


The writer is the Vice-Chancellor of Kurigram Agricultural University