Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Padma Bridge: The Pride of Bangladesh

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The historic Padma Bridge is a symbol of Bangladesh’s pride, ability and dignity, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh. She inaugurated the longest bridge in the country, built entirely with domestic funding, on Saturday, June 25, 2022.

The 6.15 kilometer four-lane road-rail bridge spans the Padma River and connects southwestern Bangladesh with the capital and the rest of the country.

The construction of the multi-purpose road-rail bridge, which was fully funded by the government of Bangladesh, cost 3.6 billion dollars.

The Padma Bridge’s inauguration is significant as the structure was built entirely with domestic funding, defying the skepticism of some financial analysts who questioned Bangladesh, which will not be promoted from the UN’s list of least developed countries until 2026. mobilize the necessary funds with domestic resources.

Hasina expressed her gratitude to those who contributed to the construction of the Padma Bridge. “I have no complaints against anyone, but I believe those who opposed the Padma Bridge construction plan and referred to it as a ‘mirage’ were not confident. “I hope this bridge will inspire their confidence,” said the prime minister.

This bridge is made up of more than bricks, cement, iron and concrete… This bridge is a symbol of our ability, our strength and our pride. “This bridge belongs to the Bengali people,” she said.

“The bridge belongs to the Bengali people. It includes our fervor, imagination, courage, endurance and tenacity,” she said. She stated that the cherished bridge stands on the turbulent Padma River, overcoming numerous obstacles and dismantling the conspiracy web.

Hasina stated: “Today I am happy, proud and overjoyed along with millions of my compatriots.” The Padma Bridge project involved engineering marvels as well as technological obstacles. It was built with state-of-the-art machinery and technological know-how and became a marvel for Bangladesh.

The Padma Bridge

The bridge is 10,642 kilometers long, has 41 spans connected by 42 pillars and is the 122nd longest bridge in the world. The length of the railway viaduct is 0.532 kilometers while the length of the main bridge is 6.15 kilometers. It is the longest bridge in Bangladesh and will significantly reduce the distance and travel time between Dhaka and the port of Mongla.

It will play an important role in regional and global trade. The distance between each pier of the bridge is 150 meters, with the deepest pile in the world at 128 meters. 2015 marked the start of construction on the 6.15-kilometer bridge, which will be completed in December 2021.

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge connects 19 districts of the southwestern region of Bangladesh, home to 30 million people, with Dhaka and other parts of the country. The construction of the bridge at a cost of 30,193.6 crore Taka ($3.6 billion) was fully funded by the Government of Bangladesh. According to the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the bridge is not part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and no bilateral or multilateral foreign funding has been used to complete this multi-purpose project.

Obstacles hindering the mega project

Initially, the project was expected to be funded by a consortium led by the World Bank.

It withdrew the proposed credit in 2012, citing “credible evidence” of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi government officials. Bangladesh has consistently denied these allegations and has chosen not to seek funding from the international financial institution.

Padma Bridge History

The opening of the bridge today is the realization of a 21-year-old dream that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, shared with the citizens of the country. During its decades-long journey, the bridge has encountered numerous obstacles; perhaps this is why it is considered a wonderful example of effective leadership. Sheikh Hasina, then and now Prime Minister, laid the foundation stone for the multi-purpose project on July 4, 2001 in Mawa, Munshiganj district, during the last days of her previous term in office. After returning to power in 2009, Sheikh Hasina and her dream project suffered a major setback when the World Bank canceled a $1.2 billion loan, citing evidence of corruption in the project.

Although a Canadian court later dismissed the allegation, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) also withdrew from the project at a time when Hasina’s power grab was weak. Hasina did not give up on her dream project and seven years later she financed the construction of the bridge again with national revenues, fulfilling her dream when she inaugurates the bridge today. The successful completion of the project after the World Bank decided to abandon it has provided the country with invaluable experience in conceiving, financing and executing mega-projects.

It is a remarkable example of independence for the rest of the world. “It is a mega project of Bangladesh that is fully funded by the government. With the construction of the Padma Bridge, the Bangladeshi government has set an example for other countries in South Asia by building the bridge with its own resources, which will undoubtedly encourage other countries to develop good regional connections through additional projects of this nature from to feed.” according to Bangladesh PMO, media report.

Padma bridge to boost economy and ties with other countries

The Padma Bridge will not only improve the connectivity between Bangladesh but also provide the necessary logistical and business dynamics to connect the common regions of India and Bangladesh. This bridge will play an important role in improving bilateral and sub-regional links between India and Bangladesh.

Mercy Tembon, country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan at the World Bank, has said the Padma Bridge will boost inclusive economic growth and reduce poverty in Bangladesh.

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