On June 25, the Padma Bridge is starting its journey with new possibilities and new horizons. All modern materials have been used to build the bridge. The bridge has also set five world records. All the latest technology has been used in its construction. Padma is the second largest river in the world after the Amazon (Brazil) in terms of its water flow.
The first world record for this bridge is to place the pile at a depth of 120 to 122 meters. Nowhere in the world has the pile been inserted so deep. These piles have a radius of three meters. No bridge has ever needed such a deep piling and no thick piles have been laid. The second record is about the bearings; the capacity of ‘Fractional Pendulum Bearings’ on this bridge is 10,000 tons. So far no such bearing has been installed on any bridge. The Padma Bridge has been built to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 9 on the Richter scale.
The next world record is the bearing between the pillar and the span. Each bearing weighing 10,500 metric tons has been used here. Never before in the world has such large bearings been used on a bridge.
The other record is related to river training. An area of 14 km (1.6 Mawa, 12.4 Jajira) has been brought under river training. The river has cost more than Tk 9,400 crore. The next record is the crane used on the bridge. The crane used to place the span on the pillars was brought from China. 30 lakh taka has to be calculated for its rent every month. In three and a half years, the total cost has been 12 crore 70 lakh taka. The crane has been rented for such a long time to build this bridge for the first time. The market value of this crane is 2,500 crore taka. Another record is that the Padma Bridge has been built with concrete and steel.
After the World Bank withdrew from the Padma Bridge, in a cabinet meeting in July 2012, the Prime Minister decided to build the Padma Bridge with the government’s own funds. In 2016, the Canadian Supreme Court also dismissed the Padma Bridge corruption case as “baseless”. Bangladesh is free from stigma. The Prime Minister’s ‘challenge’ won.
Our communication was once river-dependent. In this case, also there were innumerable rivers. In order to build any road, one had to cross small and big rivers. At one time the people of 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 when the work is over. The Bangabandhu Bridge across Jamuna was inaugurated on 23 June 1998. At that time, an initiative was taken to build the dream Padma Bridge to facilitate the communication of the people in the south-western part of the country.
The Padma Multipurpose Bridge will not only change the economy of the south-west Bangladesh, but also 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 has really become the dream bridge of the countrymen.
In addition, the bridge will be part of the Trans-Asian Railway in the future. Then the freight trains will be more in number than the passenger trains. Mongla and Payra ports will be connected with Dhaka and Chattogram. The new golden dream will be added to the economy and this bridge will play a huge role in the growth of the country.
Due to the Padma Bridge, the wheel of the economy of the south-western region will turn quickly. The standard of living and employment will increase. Along with North Bengal, the river Jamuna was a hindrance to the daily activities of the residents of the capital Dhaka and other districts of the country. When the Bangabandhu Bridge was built over this river, the course of the economy changed.
The Padma Bridge will play a huge role in agriculture, industry, economy, education and trade. The small islands adjacent to the southern Kuakata and the Sundarbans can be used for tourism. Kuakata Beach, Sundarbans and Payra Port will be surrounded by the huge potential for tourism.
After the launching of the Padma Bridge, the people of southern region will be able to travel to Dhaka in a short time by both road and rail. Because of the bridge, for the first time, the whole country will move towards an integrated communication structure. The winds of change will also blow in the villages of the southern region. Farmers, fishermen, weavers, small and medium traders of the region can easily connect with the capital Dhaka, the largest consumer gathering in Bangladesh. On the other hand, they can collect raw materials from the capital and take them to their village and surrounding SME enterprises. In the meantime, the business environment has started to improve after hearing that the Padma Bridge will be built. The price of land on both sides of the Padma Bridge has increased three to four times.
There is a rush to set up new businesses, industries, housing projects, resorts, universities, special economic zones, hi-tech parks, human resource training centers, restaurants and various SME ventures. The shipbuilding industry has started expanding in Khulna and Barisal. The tourism industry in Kuakata is developing rapidly. This trend of development will accelerate in the coming days. Besides railways, gas, electricity and internet infrastructure will also be set up across the Padma Bridge. As a result, the communication time between Dhaka and Kolkata will be reduced by about a half. This will lead to the expansion of international trade between Bangladesh, India, Bhutan and Nepal. The volume of goods and services at Payra and Mongla seaports will increase. New ships will flock. With easy access to internet services, digital business will expand in the south. And if gas and electricity are readily available, trade will also develop in the region. Investment will also increase in the overall production, services, tourism, industry and trade of the southern region including agriculture. Employment will increase. And if that is the case now that countless working people who are the victims of the climate challenge are being forced to leave their villages and come to Dhaka to do risky informal work, their number will come down. New industries will be set up in the region. New cities will also be built.
There are plans to build cities around the Padma Bridge on both banks of the Padma in the style of Singapore and Shanghai, China. It is possible to build modern cities on both sides of the river. But it has to take a long-term plan. The GDP growth rate will increase by 1.2 percent and poverty reduction will be zero point 84 percent every year. Through this, the Padma Bridge will change the fate of about 60 million people in 21 districts of the southern region for socio-economic development.
The Bangabandhu Bridge will play an important role in eradicating poverty from northern Bangladesh. Similarly, the southern districts of the country are still lagging behind in terms of industry. People in several districts of the area are living below the poverty line. When the construction of the Padma bridge is completed and opened to traffic the backward people will be the first to benefit. Because of the benefits of the Padma Bridge, there will be massive industrialization in those areas, there will be employment for millions of people. People’s income will increase and their livelihood improve.
This bridge will undoubtedly play an important role in making Bangladesh a developed country by 2041. Moreover, the Padma Bridge is a symbol of our development, pride and prestige. Bangladesh has also made significant progress toward becoming one of the happiest countries in the world.
The writer is a researcher and columnist