Many pessimists said ‘it was not possible’. But our honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina uttered the words of optimism and determination, saying we would be able to make it happen. And the outcome of her conviction is now evident before the nation. The whole nation is set to witness the long-awaited moment of the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the most challenging and exciting project in the country’s history. After much anticipation, longing and pursuit, it is very tough indeed to simulate the emotion of the moment by any adjective. The implementation of a mega project like Padma Bridge by own funds is indeed a matter of immense joy, pride and ability. It also upholds the dignity of our nation.
Was the construction of the Padma Bridge with our own resources so easy? Not at all. However, with rock-solid determination, many impossible things can be accomplished even though numerous obstacles stand in the way. When honourable Prime Minister declared to build the bridge with the country’s own funds, the dream of the nation was revolving around many questions. However, the strong commitment of the daughter of Bangabandhu has brought this priceless gift to the nation in a very short time. At a time when the whole world came to a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic, work on the bridge was progressing at a breakneck pace. The pandemic could not stand in the way of the construction.
However, this impossible task would not have been accomplished had honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the worthy successor of the Father of the Nation, not made this pledge in front of the world. She has proved how to win the invincible war. This example set by the Prime Minister will ever be an inspiration to the Bangalee nation.
The most exciting thing is that the people of many districts will be able to cross the Padma River by the bridge for the first time. The bridge will also connect them with capital Dhaka. The people of Shariatpur must have not thought that in addition to standing in the middle of life and death in the waves of the raging Padma, the river crossing will be possible by the bridge!
The Padma Bridge will significantly improve the economy of the country’s southwest region as evident in the case of the Bangabandhu Bridge, around which an industrial revolution has taken place in North Bengal. The changes in the economy of North Bengal as a result of this bridge have contributed about 2 percent to the GDP of Bangladesh. Such contribution has also been estimated in the case of the Padma Bridge. According to many experts, the Padma Bridge’s contribution will be more than the Jamuna. Experts believe that many small and big industries will be growing in the southwestern part of the country along the Padma Bridge route, including manufacturing businesses, RMG units, assembling plants and storage facilities. According to ADB estimates, the direct investment made around this bridge will boost the regional economy. According to JICA estimates, a 10 percent reduction in travel time from Dhaka would increase the district economy to 5.5 percent, which would increase the region’s annual GDP growth by 1.7 percent.
Not only the people of some districts will get the pleasure of touching Dhaka by road but it is also expected to boost the regional economy significantly that ultimately will contribute to the national economy. Take it for example -- the flowers of Gadkhali in Jashore are exported abroad. But it was very expensive and time-consuming to reach those to Dhaka. Now the flowers that bloom in the morning can easily be transported to Dhaka and the cost will also be low.
Fish of Khulna and rice and cattle of Barishal, all will be able to touch the capital without any hassle. Millions of people are getting rid of huge troubles of bringing and taking those products. It will directly turn the wheel of the economy. GDP will increase and the wheel of livelihood of at least three crore people will be moving.
Bashundhara Bitumen has apparently played a role in smoothing the bridge. This modern and advanced grade bitumen produced in the country has also been used in the connecting roads of the Padma Bridge. The main objective of setting up Bashundhara Bitumen factory was to bring unimaginable change in the road sector of the country. Roads made with low-grade bitumen imported from abroad are not durable. Even newly constructed roads also get broken. In addition to mounting suffering of commuters, the government has to count huge amount of foreign currency for the damage to roads. With the commencement of production of Bashundhara Bitumen in the country, the door of multifaceted possibilities has opened. With the use of this bitumen in very important projects like the Padma Bridge we have been able to highlight its quality.
Bashundhara Group is the only Bangladeshi company whose cement has been used in the pillars of the main bridge. Cement of no other domestic brand was used in the main pillars. Besides, the work of connecting roads of the project has been completed earlier. The work of the entire connecting roads has been done solely with Bashundhara Cement. In addition, we have provided 14 cement silos for river management at Jajira and Mawa. This is also being done solely with Bashundhara Cement. Only Bashundhara Cement will be used in the Padma Bridge Railway Link project through which the railway tracks is being constructed from the Padma Bridge to Jashore. Thus, Bashundhara Cement has proved its capability by supplying four lakh tonnes of cement to the country's largest mega project – the Padma Bridge.
As a pro-business leader, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had taken a number of initiatives that were found to be very helpful to boost the country’s domestic production. As a result, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have been exploring new areas of intervention to curve down the import disparity with other countries. We need more blessings from our Prime Minister so that the import subsidiary industries are easily grown up by domestic entrepreneurs.
There is no less sad story on the opposite page of so much joy. That initial conspiracy is not the last word; rather that was the beginning. Then one of the pillars of the bridge stood with its head held high, its rumours surpassing the stalks of imagination. Millions of master plans have been devised to foil the project of constructing the bridge of trust and confidence of millions of people. Honourable Prime Minister, no evil force could come under the constant supervision of you. I think this bridge has been built only because of the sincerity of the daughter of Bangabandhu. However, the Prime Minister said with generosity, "The Padma Bridge has been implemented in the end because the people of the country wanted it."
May this bridge stand as a symbol of trust and love of the people of the country to the Prime Minister!
Sayem Sobhan Anvir