365Published on December 16, 2020
Pranab Kumar Panday:
Bangladeshi people’s dream of Padma Bridge has come true with the installation of the 41st span. Just a very few people could conceive of a bridge constructed in the country on the Padma five years ago. The World Bank's decision to withdraw funding from the mega project on the fake ground of imaginary corruption thwarted millions of countrymen and hence has left them incredulous about the future of the project. Even the blind backers of Awami League were very doubtful about the possibility of the completion of the bridge with own financing of a country like Bangladesh.
However, one person stood firmly on her decision to construct the bridge with internal financing. She was none other than our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who had learned how to stand unequivocally in favour of the truth from her father. Many believed that the World Bank's allegation of corruption was grounded on a conspiracy theory orchestrated by some national and international actors. They apprehended that the World Bank's decision to withdraw funds from the project would put the government in an awkward position, as the construction of the Padma Bridge was an electoral pledge of the AL government. Even they were happy thinking that a vast majority of the people living in the Khulna belt of the country, which is considered fertile land for AL, would be annoyed with the party and cast their votes against AL.
Even the BNP Chairperson voiced many times that the Padma Bridge would not be constructed during the AL government. She requested the countrymen not to travel on the bridge, as it might be broken down. However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did not allow these people to remain happy for a long time as she expressed her firm commitment to construct the bridge with internal financing. In view of the economic condition of the country, taking such a decision was not so easy for the government. However, she has made many of us dream like her father who motivated the countrymen to dream to become the citizens of an independent Bangladesh during the war of liberation. Our Prime Minister deserves appreciation for her determination to stand against the World Bank's allegation of corruption in the project. This reflects our Prime Minister's courage and firmness in her decision. Had she accepted the World Bank's claim, it would not have been a respectful decision of the government.
With the establishment of the 41st span, the Padma Bridge has become visible now. The government has already indicated that the bridge could be opened on the 26th of March 2022 on the occasion of the country's Independence or before if possible. It would be a great decision if the government could open the bridge on the independence day of 2022. The Padma Bridge was a long-cherished desire of the people of the Khulna region. It would not only help them to minimize the travel time but also create a new horizon of business and investment in that region. A number of medium and large-scale industries would be built on different parts of the Khulna and adjacent districts. It would reinforce relations between various parts of the country and the Mongla port. It would also strengthen regional connectivity.
We all know that transportation plays a key role in the development of any country. Therefore, it would play a constructive role for our country, and consequently, tremendous growth will take place in the country soon. The construction of this bridge would allow people to share their resources quickly with the rest of the country. The bridge would also contribute greatly to the country's tourism industry, which would also allow the government to earn foreign currency. Taking into account the highly positive effect of the bridge, the government expects the country's GDP to grow by 1.50% to 2% after the completion of the bridge that is a positive development in the context of the country.
The sufferings of the construction team must be recognised with great importance as the Padma River is known as ‘Kirtinasa’ (destroyer of landmark) due to its wrath and fierceness in the monsoon. The river is also known for its unpredictable nature with both ripping and rambling features. With a period of about 12 years, the main flow of the river travels from one side to the other, causing significant bank and bed erosion. With the ferocity and rapidly-flowing nature of the river, such a bridge on it was once unimaginable. Therefore, the engineers had to consider different strategies to deal with this rushing river.
It has been learned that the construction team had to go down to a distance of around forty-story buildings during piling and construction of the pillar. So, one can imagine how hard it was to work on this project. It has also been learned that many foreign engineers fled the country having failed to cope with the severity of the context. The government and the concerned authorities did not lose their interest in constructing this bridge in view of such difficulties. Therefore, all the workers, engineers and project staff deserve special thanks and appreciation for their relentless efforts to realise an impossible project. The Covid-19 pandemic, along with the numerous difficulties has significantly influenced the progress of the project. In the last few months, many workers were found Covid-19 positive and, therefore, the authorities had to struggle to find adequate workers to complete the project on time.
The completion of the construction of the Padma Bridge with internal funding demonstrates the strength of the country's economy. The Prime Minister's courage points to the country's strong economic position, which is evident even within the Covid-19 pandemic when it is relatively improving compared to many of the giant economies that are struggling to cope with the changing time. All credits must go to our Prime Minister who has proved that everything can be done if someone has honesty and dedication. Her father offered us Independence in 1971. He could not take the country as forward as he wanted to take due to the betrayal of a group of politicians and armed force officers.
That is why our Prime Minister wants to fulfil her father's unfished desire to put Bangladesh on the list of developed countries. Under her leadership, the country is expected to enter into the list of middle-income countries by 2024. Prime Minister's main goal is to transform Bangladesh into a developed country by 2041. The construction of the Padma Bridge would be an important mechanism for the country's economic development. Therefore, the dream of Padma Bridge has started to become a reality. We all should extend our support to our Prime Minister in working collectively to take Bangladesh to the next level of development.
Writer: Professor, Dept. of Public Administration and Additional Director of the Institutional Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC), University of Rajshahi.
Source: The Daily Sun