Thursday 18, August 2022
BN

PM inaugurates Padma Bridge

News Desk: The much-awaited Padma Bridge was inaugurated amid grand celebrations and enthusiasm across Bangladesh, setting up direct communication between the capital Dhaka and 21 south-western districts.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the bridge by unveiling the inauguration plaque and mural of the bridge at the Maowa end of the bridge at about 12:00 noon.

The prime minister's motorcade then crossed the Padma Baridge and unveiled another inaugural plaque at the Jajira end of the bridge.

She then addressed a rally organised by the Awami League at the Jajira end. Tens of thousands of people joined the rally.

Earlier, the prime minister delivered her speech in the inaugural ceremony at Mawa point, where foreign diplomats, development partners, leaders of different political parties and civil society members were among others joined.

The prime minister, in her speech, greeted the nation on the happy occasion of the inauguration and thanked all the people involved in the construction of the bridge.

She thanked the people of Bangladesh for keeping faith on her in constructing the Padma Bridge with own funds.

‘This bridge is our pride...’ announced Hasina, also the president of Bangladesh Awami League.

She said that the bridge was a symbol of pride, dignity, honour and ability.

She described how the country faced conspiracy in construction of the bridge and the difficulties the government faced to tear all the conspiracies to make the Padma Bridge project successful with own funds.

To mark the historic moments, she also unveiled commemorative postage stamps, souvenir sheets, opening day cover and seals and a note of Tk 100 as part of the grand opening of the country’s biggest self-financed mega project.

The inaugural session was presided over by road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader.

Addressing as the chair, Obaidul Quader, also the general secretary of the Awami League, thanked prime minister Sheikh Hasina for constructing the bridge with own funds and for not bowing head before the conspiracies in home and abroad.

The inauguration of the Padma Bridge is being celebrated in all but flood-hit districts of the country simultaneously.

Bangladesh Bridge Authority has constructed the 6.15-kilometre road-cum-railway bridge between Mawa point in Munshiganj and Janjira point in Shariatpur at the expense of Tk 30,193 crore, entirely financed by the Bangladesh government.

This is a flagship project of the ruling Awami League government, which took it as a challenge after the World Bank cancelled a $1.2 IDA credit in support of the project in 2012 citing ‘possible corruption risks.

The bridge will cut travel time between the capital Dhaka and other major cities significantly, giving the country’s south-west region a much-needed economic boost.

According to the initial assessment, it will add 1.23 per cent to the national GDP and 2.3 per cent to the GDP south-west region and alleviate poverty by 0.84 per cent.

Former World Bank Dhaka office chief economist Zahid Hussain told that the bridge would make an immediate impact on the tourism sector and inter-district commerce through direct road connectivity.

Gradually the bridge will keep a role in agricultural expansion by increasing the amount of agricultural product while investment will also increase in south and south-west districts in future, he said.

The bridge, which is also a part of the Asian Highway – 1 – Tamabil-Sylhet-Dhaka-Padma Bridge-Jashore-Benapole, will be open to traffic at 6:00am Sunday.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project in July 2001.

As per the initial proposal in 2007, the length of the bridge was 5.58 kilometres with an estimated cost of Tk 10,161 crore. The cost rose to Tk 20,507 crore in the first revision of the project in 2011 and the length of the bridge was increased to 6.15 kilometres.

The cost rose to Tk 30,193 crore in the second revision in 2015.

Prime minister Hasina inaugurated the construction work of the main bridge at Mawa point in December 2015.

Initially, the project was supposed to be completed by 2014 but after a few extensions, the final deadline was fixed for June 2023.

The total length of the bridge is a total of 9.83km with viaduct and the bridge width is 21.65m.

The upper deck is of 22m wide concrete deck slab with four lanes for road traffic plus two breakdown lanes and the lower deck is of single-track dual gauge for rail communications.

The approach road of the bridge is 12.117km, and the river training works is of 14km. The bridge has 42 piers, 41 spans and 294 piles.

The authorities acquired a total of 2,700 hectares of land for the bridge project.

A gas transmission lane, fiber optical and telephone duct and seven high voltage electric lane platforms will go through the bridge.

The Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation and private companies are going to launch bus services on new long routes from the capital and Narsingdi to south-western districts via the Padma Bridge on June 26.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority recently increased the long-route bus fares via the bridge between Tk 10 and Tk 11 taking the toll rate for using Padma Bridge into consideration.

Earlier on May 17, the government fixed toll rates for using the Padma Bridge through a gazette notification.

The toll ranged from Tk 100 to over Tk 6,000 for different vehicles.

The Bridges Division on May 29 issued a gazette notification naming the bridge Padma Bridge.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina earlier on May 24 turned down a proposal to name the bridge after her.

The United States in a press release on Friday congratulated Bangladesh on the momentous opening of the Padma Bridge.

‘Building sustainable transportation infrastructure to connect people and goods efficiently is important to fostering inclusive economic growth,’ the press release read.

‘The Padma Bridge will create new and important linkages within Bangladesh, boosting commerce and improving the quality of life,’ the US wrote in the press release.

Pakistan also congratulated Bangladesh on the occasion calling the building of the bridge ‘an important landmark in the development journey’ of Bangladesh.

SK

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