Impact of the Padma Bridge is far reaching for Bangladesh

Hiren Pandit: The toll collection on Padma Bridge released 1500 crore taka. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the much-awaited Padma Bridge on 25 June 2022. So far, 1 crore 12 lakh 91 thousand 95 vehicles have crossed both ends of the bridge.

Among them, 56 lakh, 1 thousand 232 cars crossed through Mawa, and 56 lakh, 89 thousand 863 vehicles crossed the Jazira border. Toll collection by Padma Bridge continues as expected. The bridge was opened for traffic on June 26. Since the inauguration of the 6.15 km long Padma multi-purpose bridge built at 30 thousand 193 crores, it has been playing an essential role in the overall economic development of 21 districts of the southern and western regions and the country. After the Bridge’s construction, the people of the southern districts can quickly come and go to Dhaka for any need, including Eid, without any hassle.

Since independence in 1971, the importance of road connectivity has increased. In this case, too, there were many rivers and streams. If you want to build any road, you must cross small and big rivers. Many ferries were running. The people of the northern region never thought they would leave in the morning and reach Dhaka in the afternoon. About three crore people who live in the southwestern region of Bangladesh are the primary beneficiaries of the Padma Bridge project. The impact of the Padma Bridge on the national economy of Bangladesh is far-reaching. It also has a significant impact on social development every day.

Padma Bridge is working as an economic lifeline for the people of the southern part of the country. Padma Bridge contributes to socio-economic development, including trade, regional trade, connectivity to South Asia, development of industrial areas, expansion of agriculture, and economic growth. Padma Bridge is a symbol of Bengali self-esteem and self-reliance. It has been our long-cherished dream as a nation. Padma Bridge has created a multi-dimensional field in Bangladesh. Industry in Bangladesh is now developing a new industrial area centered on the Padma Bridge; economic development is taking place.

In the past 20 months, the Padma Bridge has changed the lives of three crore people in 21 districts of the southwestern part of the country. Padma Bridge stands with pride because it was built with its own money in the heart of Padma. The region’s economy has changed due to the influence of the dream Padma bridge. According to the calculations of Khulna Export Development Bureau, in the fiscal year 2022-23, the income from the products exported from this region has increased by about 1 thousand crore taka. Due to the Padma multi-purpose bridge, as the communication system has changed radically in the region, the economy has also been significantly boosted.

Also, the dying Mongla port is now buzzing with activity. Besides, 18 projects have been brought under the purview of Padma Bridge to ensure a direct connection with Mongla port and communication system with the northern region. Jashore-Khulna Mongla highway, including upgrading to six lanes, has seven more projects in progress. This bridge is a means of communication and a gateway to development.

Various businesses, including industry, culture, agriculture, tourism, and industry, have expanded through this bridge. As a result of this bridge, the image of the agriculture-based economy of 21 districts of the south has changed. Southern vegetables are exported to Europe for the first time across the country. Due to the ease of communication, there is a demand for vegetables in Padma Par, only 50 km from the capital. Not only this, through contract farming, there has been an opportunity to export a lot of vegetables to the European market in the last few months.

Therefore, thousands of farmers are trained and advised to produce quality vegetables. Farmers and traders are benefiting from the sale of vegetables at fair prices. Farmers said the agricultural products could not be marketed on time due to the time it took to cross the ferry. After the construction of the Padma Bridge, the agricultural products produced in this region are now exported abroad. According to the soil type, work is being done to produce vegetables for export in uncultivated land. The construction of packaging and processing centers is underway to facilitate exports. Due to the welfare of the Padma Bridge, there is a significant improvement in the socio-economic aspect of the region. Earlier, someone from those areas had to stay at least two nights and one day in Dhaka to finish some work.

But now he can come in the day and leave within the day. It cannot be interpreted as how big it is in those areas. Apart from that, trade and investment have increased, the tourism sector has improved dramatically, and land value has greatly benefited those areas’ people. After the construction of Padma Bridge, the increase in the price of land deposits should be calculated. The price of manufactured goods has increased. He owns a few acres of land and 3-4 crores of taka. Analysts have pointed out that the Padma Bridge contributes significantly to improving the economy and standard of living and agricultural revolution and employment.

Through the Padma Bridge, a direct road connection has been created with the capital, Dhaka, the country’s southwest region, and Mongla Port. Travel time between the capital and the southwest region has been reduced by a quarter. Where it used to take 10 to 12 hours to travel to the southwestern districts, it now takes two and a half hours to a maximum of three and a half hours. Due to the welfare of Padma Bridge, the tourism sector has also significantly developed. Being part of the proposed Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway Network, the Padma Bridge has facilitated regional connectivity.

Padma Bridge contributes to 29 percent growth in the construction sector, 9.5 percent in agriculture, and 8 percent in manufacturing and transportation. The government is implementing an integrated master plan for tourism-based development around the vast area from Payra to Kuakata. This master plan includes an international airport, a modern tourist center, an industrial port city, planned urbanization, communication, development of the economy and agriculture sector, environment protection, and climate change-related activities, including disaster risk. Padma Bridge will play a significant role in these cases. In the future, Padma Bridge will play an essential role in many South and Southeast Asian fields, including communication, trade, and tourism.

Helping backward regions to increase employment, investment and exports through roads and railways. The railway line will add another 1 percent to the GDP. The Padma Bridge not only solved the movement of people and goods but also radically changed the fate of the people of the southwestern region. Padma Bridge has made Bangladesh stand tall in front of the world by activating the dying Mongla port. In these words, Sheikh Hasina has impressed the world by building the dream Padma Bridge with her own funding. In the face of challenges, the construction of this Padma bridge has been possible only for Sheikh Hasina.

With the opening of Padma Bridge, there has been a radical change in the direct communication system with Mongla Port. Businessmen from different parts of the country are importing cars from abroad. They pick up their vehicles from Mongla port instead of using Chattogram port for lower cost. Even our trade with neighboring country India has increased. Most of Khulna’s income came from exports from frozen fish and jute industries, one of the country’s foreign exchange earning sectors. After the launch of Padma Bridge, the industry regained its lost glory, and the income increased. In addition to this, the cost of goods transportation has also decreased.

The Padma Bridge has changed the face of the economy of the southwestern region and the whole of Bangladesh. Meanwhile, due to the Padma Bridge, the region’s frozen products exporters are benefiting the most. Due to the Padma Bridge, Bangladesh’s frozen fishery sector will turn around again. Traders can export frozen shrimp and other fish to Chattogram port on time through this bridge. Exporters are benefiting a lot from this. Sundarbans is the world’s largest mangrove forest, including parts of Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Barguna, and Patuakhali. The area of this forest is spread over 6517 square kilometers. Local and foreign tourists once lost interest in traveling to Sundarbans due to the long time wasted and the poor transportation system. After the Padma Bridge, that scenario has changed. Many local and foreign tourists are coming to Sundarbans in the last year. On the one hand, the local residents are enjoying the benefits, and the government is getting revenue.

Padma Bridge is boosting the economy of the South West region. Apart from this, developing agriculture-based industries have created employment opportunities for people. With the radical change of the road communication system, a vast opportunity has been designed to transport goods in one year. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has put a smile on the face of the people of this region by constructing the Padma Bridge in Mawa.

The southern part of the country will be connected with the Trans-Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway. Bangladesh will have international connectivity with India, Bhutan and Nepal. The number of vehicles will increase by 7-8 percent every year, and by 2050, there will be 67 thousand vehicles. Padma Bridge has been made suitable for both bus and rail traffic. It will facilitate transportation and play a significant role in telecommunications, electricity, and natural gas transportation.

The writer is an essayist, researcher and columnist

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