Authority expects Padma Bridge to open in June

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The Padma Multipurpose Bridge Authority has said the country’s biggest bridge is likely to be opened for traffic in June this year as they by now completed 92 percent of its construction works

“Our target is to open the 6.15 kilometre long Bridge within June this year,” Padma Multipurpose Bridge Authority’s Project Director Md Shafiqul Islam told BSS today.

He said 97 percent of the construction of the main structure of the bridge was completed while in terms of total construction and related works, 92 percent was finished by now.

“We have been working relentlessly to complete the rest eight percent within the stipulated time in line with the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” the project chief said.

Officials including morphologists familiar with the development said completion of the river training remained to be the major task while they calculated the progress of the segment to be 90.5 percent.

The structure is aimed to link by road the entire southwestern region with Dhaka and other parts of the country drastically shortening the journey time benefitting trade and millions of people in person.

Economists said the Padma Bridge would increase the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 1.5 to 2 percent and change particularly the economic landscape of Bangladesh’s southwestern part promoting tourism, industry alongside the routine trades.

The premier along with Bangabandhu’s younger daughter Sheikh Rehana visited the site on December 31 last year to witness herself the work progress when they walked on the bridge for two kilometers from pillar no 7 to 18 in the morning on that day.

“We have been eagerly waiting for the grand opening of the bridge in June,” a Shariatpur bound passenger of the route Md Shariful Islam said.

Sheikh Hasina earlier announced her government would construct the bridge with Bangladesh’s own fund, discarding dependence on foreign donors like the World Bank which questioned the accountability and transparency of fund management of the project even before the project was launched.

The subsequent developments suggested the allegation to be baseless or unfounded but the government kept on its promise not to accept foreign lending to construct the bridge.

Political analysts said the implementation of Padma Bridge project, one of the major election pledges of Awami League, would benefit the incumbent government during the 2023 elections.

Bangladesh Bridges Authority (BBA) officials said some 22 meters wide concrete deck slab with 4-lane road on upper deck would feature the structure, while a single-track dual gauge railway track would be installed on lower deck.

They said the bridge will also have a 760 mm dia gas transmission line, 150 mm dia Fiber optical & telephone duct, high voltage electric line, platform in River over pile foundation at two km downstream of the main bridge.

China’s Major Bridge Engineering Company (MBEC) is constructing the main bridge and its Sino Hydro Corporation was assigned with the task of river management.

The official data showed Sheikh Hasina opened the construction work on December 12, 2015 and the first span of the bridge was installed at the Jajira point of Shariatpur on October 7, 2017.

Along with Bangladeshis, many foreign nationals have been working round the clock for the project.