The dream Padma Bridge opened to traffic on Sunday morning a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the country’s mega structure through a gala ceremony.
Vehicles, mostly buses, goods-laden trucks, private cars and motorbikes started crossing the Padma Bridge over the mighty Padma River soon after the bridge opened at 5:50am.
Besides, many enthusiastic people were eagerly waiting at both ends of the Padma River— Mawa and Jazira points, throughout the night to have a walk along the 6.15km-long bridge.
Drivers of many vehicles were also seen breaking traffic rules imposed by the Bangladesh Bridges Authority (BBA) for the security and protection of the multipurpose Padma Bridge.
The authorities concerned earlier said no one will be allowed to stop their vehicles on the bridge and have also barred people from taking selfies or having a walk along the bridge.
However, many people crossed the bridge on foot, some got off their vehicles to take selfie and record videos. Law enforcers tried to bring the situation under control but in vain.
The bridge authority collected Tk 82.19 lakh toll in eight hours (6:00am to 2:00pm) after the bridge opened to traffic. A total of 15,200 vehicles crossed the bridge during this span of time.
The premier paid Padma Bridge toll as the first traveler.
The state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) on Sunday launched bus service on 23 routes, including two old ones, in the country’s southwestern region via Padma Bridge.
Besides, different private transport companies are set to launch AC and non-AC buses on the routes, sources said.
“It’s is a different feeling. Earlier it took two hours to cross the rough Padma River. Today I have crossed the bridge in just six and a half minutes,” Kazi Anwar, a bus driver, told the Daily Sun.
"I have been working in the transport sector for about 30 years, and I have been driving Sakura Paribahan's bus for about five years on Barisal-Dhaka route,” an excited Anwar said.
“It used to take one to two hours to cross the river by a ferry. But now there is now such problem and hassle. Today we crossed the Padma soon after by paying toll and left for Barisal.
“I left Sayedabad bus terminal in Dhaka at 8:30am and reached Barisal at 1:15pm. If it was the day before, I would not have reached so early.
Suruchi Biswas, a passenger of Sakura Paribahan, said when our bus were moving on the Padma Bridge, the natural beauty of the surroundings greatly fascinated us all. I felt I am in a dream.”
“When I crossed the bridge, I felt like I came from heaven. We cannot explain how smoothly we came to Barisal, Suruchi Biswas, a retired teacher added.
Nasir Uddin, a passenger of Hilsa Paribahan bus, said, "I have got excited while passing through the bridge." I wanted to get out of the bus and walk over the bridge. This is an an amazing feeling.
He also thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the construction of the dream Padma Bridge, saying that she he has done it for the people of the country’s southwestern region.