Tuesday, 16 August, 2022
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A Long-cherished Dream Finally Came True

Capt. Hussain Imam

With the inauguration of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the 25th of June, 2022, the dream of 35 million people of the 21 South and South West districts of Bangladesh have finally come true. The people of these 21 districts of the southern region of the country will derive immense benefit in all respects. They will have direct communication with Dhaka in the shortest possible time. People can now travel from Dhaka to Barisal by road in two and a half to three hours time, Khulna or Kuakata in about five hours time.

The 6.15 kilometer multipurpose Bridge over the mighty river Padma, will not only save their time of travel to the capital city by road by almost half, it will also help develop trade and business and thereby increase employment opportunities manifold. The farmers of that region will be able to market their product to Dhaka and other districts in the shortest possible time. Small, medium and large scale industries and business establishments will grow alongside the road on either side of bridge, paving the way for economic prosperity for thousands of people.

In short, the people of the southern and south western districts of the country will usher in a new era of economic prosperity never seen before. They will get more jobs, more employment opportunities. They will earn more money and their standard of living will improve.  Nay, the whole country will derive benefit from this project directly or indirectly in terms of business, trade, transport and tourism. According to economic experts, the Padma Bridge alone will help increase the GDP growth of Bangladesh by at least 1.2 percent, if not more.

Construction of the Padma Bridge, a 30,000 crore taka mega project, will remain as a milestone for the onward progress and development of the country. The construction of the bridge itself has been a historic event, accomplishment of which needed leadership, courage and determination of a person like Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibar Rahman.

There have been some sinister maneuvers at home and abroad to jeopardize the project to the extent that the World Bank, the main donor agency for the project, had to cancel the deal forthright over baseless allegation of corruption even before the start of the project. But nothing could deter Sheikh Hasina from going ahead with the project. She decided to build the bridge with the country’s own finance, taking people along with her all the way from the beginning to the end and she did it. And as a great statesperson, she rightly said in her inaugural speech that all the credit for this project went to the people of this country.

Many an experts at home and abroad feared it a misadventure on the part of Sheikh Hasina and was skeptical of her success.  Defying all their fears and misconceptions, Sheik Hasina and the people with her, accomplished the project with flying colors. The Padma Bridge now stands as a symbol of ability, glory, self respect and dignity of the people of Bangladesh. If Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has to remain dearly in the hearts of the 35 million people of the southern region of the country forever for a single most achievement during her tenure in office, it is this bridge over the Padma. Built as an own financed project, the Padma Bridge is a great achievement for which the country can rightfully take pride in.

World Bank country director for Bangladesh, Mercy Tembon while attending the opening ceremony of the bridge, has been highly appreciative of the project admitting the fact that as a self financed project, it was certainly a big achievement and the country will be greatly benefitted by it. In her instant reaction, Mercy Tembon said the World Bank as the biggest development partner of Bangladesh realised the importance of the project. The bridge will not only improve the standard of living and reduce poverty but also be a source of inspiration and prosperity for the future generation of Bangladesh.

Building of a bridge like the Padma  Bridge over the mighty river Padma, one of the most treacherous and ferocious rivers in the world, was a herculean task that needed experts of the highest grade and skill to deal with. Bangladesh, under the bold and courageous leadership of Sheikh Hasina, was able to mastermind the project, harnessing hundreds and thousands of top ranking technological experts and workers from home and abroad to fulfill the task.

The toll charges being levied on the vehicle crossing the bridge is considered by many to be rather high keeping in mind the financial capability of the vast majority of people of this country. The government, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in particular, would do well if she looked into the matter more sympathetically. Bus and truck fares are already very high. Further increase in bus or truck fares due to high toll charges is likely to enhance price hike of essential goods which in turn will add to the misery of the common people.

 

The writer is a retired Merchant Mariner