Padma Bridge is our glorious achievement26 June 2022 Editorial Desk
When the Padma Bridge project was first taken up with a budget of about Tk 10,000 crore a little more than a decade ago, the amount seemed too big to be borne by a least developed country like Bangladesh. After a decade when the bridge opened to traffic now, the cost stood at Tk 30,193.39 crore of which almost 100 per cent came from the nation's internal funding.
Hence, the completion of Padma Bridge indicates two things: one, Bangladesh's economy has grown stronger, leaving even India behind in per capita GDP; and two, the rock-solid determination of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to build such a giant infrastructure of 6.241 km in length, the 11th longest in the world, facing the odds including corruption allegations, management of funds as well as a devastating pandemic.
Indeed, the bridge's inauguration on Saturday was a momentous event for the road communications in Bangladesh. When the rail communications will begin through this multipurpose bridge, its impact will be felt even more palpably. This superstructure lying from one end to the opposite end of Padma River from Mawa to Jajira point like a massive snake is a giant leap in Bangladesh's communication sector. Before, the communication from the capital to 21 districts of the country's south depended on river crossing through slow-moving and hazardous ferries. But the bridge now has made this difficult communication easy and fast.
Undoubtedly, it would greatly cut the travel time both for passengers and goods. Experts would provide figures in terms of the development of GDP due to the bridge, but it can be said without any doubt that the bridge would greatly spurt economic activities of the country as the bridge on the Jamuna River did years ago by connecting the capital with the northern districts.
If everything goes on as usual without any further economic closures due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh is going to be declared by the UN as a middle income economy in 2026. A functional Padma Bridge would certainly help Bangladesh touch this milestone even more easily. The bridge will have its positive impact on achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030 also.
After independence in 1971, the economy of Bangladesh has come a long way, even though people of this deltaic region every year were ravaged by natural disasters. The country as a whole would have gone far ahead if massive natural disasters including floods, cyclones and man-made horrors like corruption and lack of good governance would not come on its way.
What is not appreciated is the role of foreign exchange remittance earned by our workers abroad through their tears and pain to keep our economy going. When it is said that Padma Bridge has been built with our money, it should be acknowledged with gratitude that by far the major contribution came from the hard-earned remittance of our workers in remote countries far away from their kith and kin.
Currently, Bangladesh is also going through a massive flooding in the country's north-eastern region that has already killed about 70 people with flood-hit victims crying for relief materials urgently and then the overall economy is in so dire a condition that we cannot take full comfort from the pride success in fulfilling the long held dream of Padma Bridge by neglected south of the country for development activities.
Padma Bridge is certainly a glorious achievement for the government and the people as a whole. While sharing the joy and pride of all in the successful accomplishment of dream Padma Bridge, we must ask the all concerned to ensure their utmost care for the protection of the bridge and its upkeep.