Braving all the odds, the construction work of Padma Multipurpose Bridge-- the biggest development project in the country’s history – seems to be moving into full stem. The process of setting up test piles of the main bridge began, in accordance with the scheduled time, on March 01, marking another step forward towards building the mega project that would connect all the 19 districts of the southern region directly with the capital.
As of now, 15 percent of the work on the bridge including approach roads, rehabilitation and development of the project area has already been completed at a cost of around Tk 60 billion.
In consideration of current pace the works are now going on, it is expected that the 6.15 kilometer long bridge might be opened to traffic in 2018.
Full swing construction on both river banks
A huge floating crane weighing about 500 tonnes, shipped from China, arrived at the construction site. Moreover, large barges were ready to lift heavy construction equipment.
Chinese company Sinohydro Corporation Ltd has shipped three dredgers in last December from China that would be used for the river training work. Three high-powered modern tug-boats, one anchor boat are operating round -the -clock. Dredging is started along the center line of the bridge. Construction work is moving fast to build a laboratory and jetty.
Road rollers are on operation for upgradation of the Dhaka Mawa highway. Process to build a toll plaza and culverts for the approach road for the main bridge gathered steam. A new bypass road of two lanes been built in a bid to facilitate the construction works. The Mawa ferry terminal has already been shifted and a new bus terminal will also be set up.
On the other bank of the river, more men and machine are deployed. An area stretching over 12 kilometers is abuzz with activities. Sand, stones and bricks pilled up, trucks were constantly arriving with loads of bricks, sand, cement, stones and soil. On that area, dredging pipes were seen placing sands extracted for the project.
Workers could be seen toiling hard at the Jajira point in Shariyatpur district and Shibchar point in Madaripur district as well.
A construction yard has been built on a land of around one square kilometre area at the Kumarbhogh village. Two mixer machines and a set of equipment were brought at the site, where around 500 workers had been working. Some were crashing bricks and others erecting a building.
Full swing works going on to construct approach roads, culverts, connecting bridges, service area and an army camp.
Abdul Monem Ltd and Malaysia-based HCM are jointly constructing the approach roads of the bridge for Tk 12.9 billion.
The bridge authorities said 22 percent of the work on the Mawa approach road and 29 percent of the work on Jajira road has been completed.
Already, soil testing has started at the Mawa point. Process of steel fabrication is in process at a workshop in China. On a trial basis, pilling will commence in upcoming February. As soon as the workshop on the project area constructed, the works of pilling is expected to kick off and after that the construction work of the bridge would begin.
Stunning steps taken
According to the Bangladesh Bridges Authority (BBA), around 24% of the project has been implemented until November 2014, with the processes of awarding work orders to consultants and contractors for the six key components of the bridge having been finished. 28.5% of the approach road at the Mawa point and 20.5% of that at the Jajira point have been finished and the development of the service area is moving fast. Since December 2014, works for the infrastructure of the main bridge, river training and consultancy have been going in full swing and progressing quickly.
In last November, the government signed a Tk 8,708-crore river training deal for the bridge with Sinohydro Corporation Ltd. The Chinese firm will deal with checking erosion, maintaining navigability and dredging more than 11-kilometre area in the river near Jazira and three-km area more at Mawa under the four-year agreement. River training is the second most expensive component of the government-financed $3 billion mega project.
Taking another giant leap forward, Bangladesh also entered a Tk 383.15 crore deal with a joint venture of six companies for the supervision consultancy job of the Padma bridge project. Under the four-year deal, the joint venture, led by Korean Expressway Corporation, will supervise the construction of the main bridge and river training works. The Cabinet Committee on Purchase on last October 13 awarded the supervision consultancy job to Korea Expressway Corporation and its partners Pyunghwa Engineering Consultants Ltd, Korean Engineering Consultants Corporation, Sunjin Engineering and Architecture Co, ACE Consultants Ltd (Bangladesh), and DevConsultants Ltd (Bangladesh).
Creation of the bridge will accelerate GDP: When the Padma Multi-purpose Bridge comes into operation it is estimated that it will induce GDP growth of 1.23. The lives of those who make their homes on the banks of the Padma River have seen their lifestyles undergo rapid change as construction of the Padma Multi-purpose Bridge at Munshiganj and Shariatpur begins. Around 300 Chinese and 1,000 local workers were working there. Moreover, around 25, 000 more workers will be employed to complete the bridge. To speed up the work, 1,000 Chinese engineers would reach the site soon.
PM plans Hong Kong-like city near Padma
“A city like Hong Kong will be built on the banks of the Padma once the bridge has been constructed,” opined Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. To that end, Prime Minister discussed urbanisation in that area with the finance minister, specifically mentioning a ‘state-of-the-art’ conference hall and recreation centre. Discussion on shifting the annual trade fair there also took place. “We can build a new city there. I have already spoken to the finance minister. We’ll have to build a good conference centre there.” Prime Minister opined.
“The area can be developed if we move the trade fair there. We can build something for entertainment,” added Prime Minister. Recently, Obidul Quader, roads, bridges and communication minister said that “a new airport will be built too. In addition, country’s most attractive tourist spot and an Olympic village are likely to be constructed.”
Affected families were rehoused: Around 2800 acres of land have been acquired for the project. In a bid to resettle lives of those sacrificed their lands for the mega projects, the government provided all of them with an alternative plot. Till date, seven rehabilitation centers have been set up respectively at Mawa and Shibchar.
The rehabilitation centers offer schools, roads, markets, worship places and other amenities. Plots have been handed over to the affected families. Houses are being erected on those plots.
The Munshiganj, Shariatpur and Madaripur district administrations had been given Tk 10.7 billion for land acquisition under the project while a total of 2592 plots have been prepared under the rehabilitation scheme. Till October, 790 plots were handed over to the families.
As many as 5,000 families have scarified their lands for this project. Of them, 2,700 families were rehoused. Rest will be given soon. With self efforts, many of these families have built up their home putting in self efforts after getting the compensation money.
70 percent of the rehabilitation work is completed. And compensation has been given to the affected families as well, said the concerned authorities. Proof of that claim is evident in the accounts of the affected families.
Residents of both banks, who never dreamt that they could make money on house rents, are now renting their houses to thousands of labourers came to work under the project.
Lets take the case of Danesh Chokdar who, like many others, given away his 26 shatak of land in this project. But he is not landless now. He along with his family has got a new roof to live under. Danesh built his new house where the government allocated him 5 shatak land, spending the money he received as compensation.
“I have sacrificed my ancestral property. I am still happy only because the bridge will benefit the entire country and change the course of our life,” Danesh said. All of those families took shelter in these rehabilitation centers have been provided with training that is designed to empower them economically.