Padma Bridge: A Game Changing Construction for Bangladesh Economy

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With the installation of its last span, the long-awaited multipurpose bridge is now fully visible

In a historic day for the nation, the long-awaited Padma Multipurpose Bridge, a lifelong dream for the southern districts of the country, has become fully visible following the installation of its last span.

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project (PMBP) authorities installed the 41st and last span of the 6.15km long bridge on Thursday.

PMBP Executive Engineer Dewan Md Abdul Quader confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune.

According to PMBP officials, the 41st span (2-F) was installed on pillars 12 and 13 at the Mawa end.

More than 81% of the total construction work has been done and 91% of the construction work of the main bridge is complete, officials told Dhaka Tribune.

The bridge, which was funded domestically, will connect the capital with 21 southern districts through road and railways. The first span of the bridge was installed in September 2017. Three years later, the last span has been installed.

Beginning in the morning, a lot of people gathered on the Padma River to watch the installation. However, they had to observe the span installation from a distance as a patrol boat of the Bangladesh Army was patrolling in the area to ensure safety.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, the flags of Bangladesh and China were posted on the last span.

People moved around on the river in small boats and speed boats, took pictures and selfies beside the Padma Bridge. They expressed their gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, as the premier herself had committed to the construction of the bridge despite negative attitudes from the World Bank and some other big merchant groups on allegations of corruption. The allegations were later found to be not true.

Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, state minister for shipping, told reporters on Monday that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had nipped all conspiracies in the bud by having the Padma Bridge built.

“By installing the last span of the Padma Bridge, Bangladesh has shown the world that we can achieve the impossible. No one can express this feeling in words. We, indeed the entire country, are grateful to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” Khalid Mahmud said while on his way to the Padma River to visit the construction site of Ilias Ahmed Chowdhury ferry ghat of Madaripur.

“Bangabandhu taught us how to achieve something. Under his leadership, we got the country, we got independence, sovereignty. Today we got the Padma Bridge through his daughter,” the state minister added.

Al Nahian Khan Joy, president of Bangladesh Chhatra League, visited the Padma River to observe the last span installation process of the bridge along with Chhatra League’s General Secretary Lekhak Bhattachariya and some others.

While talking to Dhaka Tribune on Thursday afternoon, Joy said it was another victory for Bangladesh in the Month of Victory.

“It was done under the leadership of our pride Sheikh Hasina. She made this impossible thing possible in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Joy added.

How much work is still left?

Although the installation of the spans are completed, there are still some works left.

Installation of prefabricated slabs over the spans is also underway to prepare the bridge for traffic. Around 2,917 slabs need to be installed over the spans while 1,333 slabs are already installed.

Similarly, 2,959 railway sleepers are required for the bridge, with 1,942 sleepers already installed.

Prof Shamim Z Bosunia, chairman of the government’s expert panel on the PMBP, said there was still a lot of work to be done after the installation of the spans.

He said: “As far as I know, it will take 22 months to install the railway sleepers, but the contractor has been instructed to do it in two shifts per day in order to finish the work within 11/12 months.

“After the slabs are installed, concrete casting, road division and road marking need to be done simultaneously.”

When will the bridge be opened for traffic?

Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said the Padma Multipurpose Bridge was likely be opened to traffic after being completed by June 2022.

“The Padma Bridge is now a reality. It is physically completed. I think by June 2022, we will open the Padma Bridge for traffic,” he said while speaking at a meeting of the Finance Department of the Ministry of Finance at Osmani Memorial Auditorium on Thursday.

“I am still looking after the project,” he added, mentioning that he had served as secretary of the bridge department for eight years.

Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Monday said it would take 10-12 months to complete the other remaining works of the Padma Bridge after the installation of the last span.

The Bridges Division projected that the total construction of the bridge would likely reach completion in mid-2022.

The current deadline for the project is June 2021, meaning that the project is likely to see another revision for time extension. The project cost rose to Tk30,193 crore after several revisions.

With the extension of the deadline comes the possibility of an increase in cost. The Bridges Division, however, projected that the cost would not escalate again. As of September 30, Tk23,796.24 had been spent on the project.

The construction of the bridge began in November 2015, with a view to connecting the country’s south-western region with the capital via road and rail. Once in service, the 6.15km bridge will connect the capital with 21 south-western districts. It is expected to boost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.2%.

Obaidul Quader had previously, however, stated that GDP would increase by 1.50%-2% after the completion of the bridge.

The long-anticipated Padma Bridge is expected to change the socioeconomic structure of southern Bangladesh and have a positive effect on the country’s economy.

It will also connect many countries of South and Southeast Asia and contribute to communication, trade, industry, tourism and many other sectors in various ways.

‘Padma Bridge becomes visible fully defying all odds’

Obaidul Quader on Thursday said the Padma Bridge had now become visible, defying all sorts of conspiracies and hurdles, under the prudent and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, reports BSS.

“Because of the courageous and humanitarian leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has shown the entire world that it also can turn the impossible into the possible,” he said.

Quader, who is also the general secretary of the Awami League, was responding to journalists’ questions after addressing the council session of the Joypurhat district unit of the party.

He took part in the session through videoconferencing from his official residence in Dhaka.

The minister said with domestic funds, the last span of the 6.15-kilometer Padma Bridge, which was a dream for millions of people, was installed on Thursday, leaving the world stunned.

Source: Dhaka Tribune 

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