Padma Multipurpose Bridge
Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina recently presided over ceremonies marking completion of about 60 per cent of the physical works of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) project. The bridge would have opened to traffic by the end of the current year. But completion was delayed by physical forces beyond
human control. Physical difficulties not encountered at the outset or earlier unanticipated such as such as strong current changes in the river and unusual flaccid conditions of the river bed in some sectors that greatly hazarded piling work for the girders. But it goes to the credit of the government that it stayed the course undeterred and after overcoming all of these formidable physical challenges the bridge is well headed for opening by next year.
When completed and opened to traffic as expected by 2018, the six kilometre long bridge would be the second biggest in the world and an engineering marvel. Notably, nearly 70 per cent of works on this gigantic infrastructure including approach roads and other preliminaries have been already completed in a short period of time that amply proves the determination of this government’s planners to push ahead with the this flagship project. The main construction part of it or the piling along with river training works were officially only a year ago with the PM in attendance.
The PMB is the biggest infrastructure ever that has been taken up in Bangladesh’s history. Out of the projected over 30,000 crore Taka estimated as necessary for the construction of the mega project, Bangladesh would be providing nearly the entire sum. In fact, it is no overstatement to say that the bridge is being constructed mainly by spending from the country’s own resources. This development is also an indicator of the current state of the Bangladesh economy that enables it to finance such a mega project without external assistance. When negotiations between Bangladesh and the World Bank (WB) ceased in 2013 over financing the PMB and pessimists and even some experts expressed the view that construction of the bridge by Bangladesh all by itself was an impossibility, our PM subsequently declared that Bangladesh would build the bridge come what may and by its own efforts and resources. It appears that this pledges is well on the way towards fulfilment no matter that WB by its highly fictitious objections earlier had delayed the vital project by about two years.
The PMB will likely give a major impetus to the all round economic development process of the country. Road travel between 21 southern and western districts with the rest of the country including Dhaka will much ease or be facilitated. In these
hitherto underdeveloped districts, economic enterprises of different types will become feasible. As a matter of fact, potential entrepreneurs are sensed to be in a scramble to buy lands in these districts with the aim of setting up various industries there. Thus, the forecasts are that even in the short term, the country’s economic growth will increase by at least 1.23 per cent as soon as the bridge becomes usable. Railway, power and gas lines will also cross into the southern and western regions by using the bridge. Reportedly, PMB will also become a part of the Asian Highway’s AAE-1 route. Thus, the PMB’s economic and developmental prospects are immense.
We, on the part of this paper, wish to thank the PM for her gallant leadership in taking forward the project overcoming all odds.