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Bridge over Padma

A success of pride after independence

25 June 2022
Bridge over Padma


Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :
The feasibility study of the Padma Bridge began from 1996 to 2000, and then in 2001 the feasibility study was done with the help of Japanese. In July 2004, the government decided to build the Padma Bridge between Mawa and Jazira on the recommendation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In 2006, the caretaker government finalized a consultancy firm to design the Padma Bridge. The 14th party alliance Awami league government appointed them with an oath. The final design of the 6.15 km bridge was done. In the new design, the train will run below, and the motor vehicle will run above.The Padma Multipurpose Bridge will not only change the economy of the South-West, but of the whole of Bangladesh. In more detail, the bridge will play an important role in many areas of South Asia and Southeast Asia, including communications, trade, and tourism. All in all, this bridge will become the dream bridge of the people of the country. However, it was not easy to build such a bridge with own funds. For many years our communication was river dependent. After gaining independence in 1971, road communication started gaining importance. In this case also rivers were obstacles. In order to build any road, one had to cross small and big rivers. People in the north never imagined that they would leave in the morning and reach Dhaka at noon. It will be possible to come back on the same day after finishing the work again.
Bangladesh will enter a new era on 25 June, 2022. Our longawaited mega project Padma Bridge willbe inaugurated on that day. This is the largest infrastructural project of Bangladesh so far. The economic implication of Padma Bridge is enormous as it will directly rejuvenate the business, economy and lifestyle of a large part of our country. The challenge to build this bridge is worth writing a book by itself. But the valorous leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina turned Padma Bridge into a reality. It is truly a glorious addition to the legacy and history of this country. Hence, we all need to protect Padma Bridge as well as surrounding ecosystem to attain maximum benefits.
The Padma Bridge is a symbol of confidence and dignity of Bangladesh, which is an emotion to Bangladeshi people. It is a long cherished dream. One end is Mawa of Munshiganj and the other end is Jajira of Shariatpur. This is the first direct road link between Dhaka and Shariatpur. The dream is going to be completed with the inauguration on 25th June 2022.This day will always be remembered as a glorious day in our national life.  Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the Padma Bridge on July 4, 2001 with the aim of improving the living standards of more than three crore people in 21 districts of southwestern Bangladesh.  The 6.15 km long bridge with four lane highway and one lane railway is a reality today.  
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the only one to claim this achievement.  Ignoring hundreds of adversities, obstacles, baseless allegations and conspiracies of the World Bank, Sheikh Hasina was uncompromising, steadfast and unwavering like her father in the construction of the Padma Bridge.  Sheikh Hasina did not bow her head to any pressure that day.  Standing in this great National Assembly on July 8, 2012, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina firmly declared that the implementation of the Padma Bridge would be at Bangladesh's own expense.  The people of Bangladesh have built the Padma Bridge at their own expense.
For the rise of a myriad of possibilities from the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, there will be a sharp rise in entrepreneurial minds. Employments will fill up in droves. People empowered with new opportunities will be more into small businesses. There will be a rise in trained workers as wages are expected to increase. Better healthcare facilities coupled with lesser commute time will add to better living.From the inception of the bridge, industrialization might create work opportunities for at least 10 lakh people within five years which will add up to 30-40 lakh employment within the next 10 years in Barisal. Issues like migration shall be reduced as new workplaces will grow in the outskirts of the Padma bridge with growing businesses in Khulna and Barisal. The increased scope of industrialization might result in an increasing number of universities and training facilities in the southwest region. Human capital coming into a developing process, the proportion of NEET (Not in education, employment, or training) youths will fall.  According to the 2019 Human Development Index (HDI) by UNDP, Bangladesh was ranked at 135 among 189 countries. The bridge stimulating economic activity leading to demographical changes will moving the country more towards gaining SDG goals.
The bridge will assist in maximizing farm and non-farm growth possibilities, diversified agriculture in saline-affected parts, and availing inter-country trade between Bangladesh and India. By the same token, it will maximize dairy and fish processing, shrimp business, jute, and textile. Adopting strong supply chains, farmers will benefit from being able to maintain the quality of their perishable commodities as well as lower production costs due to transportation and storage facilities. Export zones becoming more adjacent, export of agriproducts will provide quality assurance. With transport and energy constraints removed, SMEs like small-scale garments, small-scale export manufacturing businesses will increase. Open to vast opportunities, with increased investment and industrial growth, integration of SMEs and MSMEs will create multiple spill-over effects in generating outcomes. All of these will result in less urbanization of megacities and decentralization of the economy caused by reduced migration.
The construction of the Padma Bridge will also improve the integrated communication system of the country.  The bridge will connect the Trans-Asian Highway (N-6) and the Trans-Asian Railway.  As a result, economic zones, high-tech parks and private industries are being set up on both sides of the bridge.Mongla and Payra seaports will be operational due to the bridge.  The tourism industry will also develop.  Kuakata beach, the Sundarbans, the sixty-domed mosque, Bangabandhu's mausoleum, the resorts on the banks of the Mawa and Jajira are popular with domestic and foreign tourists.
As there is no Padma bridge, waiting for hours for ferries, how many hundreds of people have lost their lives in the mad waves of Padma.  Those painful days are coming to an end.  Now it is the turn of the people of the South and South-West to make their dreams come true.  These problems that have been going on for ages will be solved.  Industrial factories will now be set up in the area.  People will get better treatment.  The whole south and southwest will change.  Acquisition of Padma Bridge is a surprise in the eyes of everyone.  This is the wonder of my Bangladesh.
On the one hand, the Padma Bridge of the country will bring prosperity to our country - just as it is a matter of pride for our country. Because building bridges over large and turbulent rivers like the Padma is a truly challenging issue. But the firm conviction of the Bangladesh government is making it possible to implement it, which is truly admirable. Improving the communication system of a country is very important to make it digital. And the Padma Bridge has improved the communication system of our country. For this reason, the Padma Bridge is considered as one of the components of Digital Bangladesh. The Padma Bridge is a matter of pride for the Bengali nation, and it will play a vital role in the socio-economic development of our country. In a developing country like Bangladesh, implementing big projects like Padma Bridge with its own funds is really a challenging issue. It has made the name of the Bengali nation bright again. And it has proved to the world that the Bengali nation is no longer backward. Bangladesh has the capacity to implement various projects like Padma Bridge with its own funds.
Padma Bridge will be a glorious chapter in the history of Bangladesh. We have faced conspiracy, scandals and many other challenges to complete this mega project. It was PM Sheikh Hasina's courageous decision to build this bridge with own money, which made this project possible. Millions of people have billions of dreams attached with Padma Bridge. Only if we are careful enough in using this bridge and surrounding areas, then those dreams will come true. We hope, Padma Bridge will take us to new heights globally.Finally, we can say that, the inauguration of Padma bridge will be a significant event after independence. Above all, Padma Bridge is the symbol of dignity, honor and prestige.

(The writer is former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar
& VDP).

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