Padma Bridge: Firmness of the Prime Minister
The dream of the people of Bangladesh to visit the Padma Bridge has started to come true through placing of the 41st span on the pillars built on the river Padma. Even five years back, very few people in the country had the idea that a bridge over the Padma would be built in this country one day. The decision not to finance by the World Bank on this mega project, alleging fictitious corruption, disappointed millions of people. As a result, many were confused about the future of the project. After the decision not to finance by the World Bank, the blind supporters of the Awami League expressed doubts about the possibility of building the bridge with their own funds in a country like Bangladesh.
However, one person was adamant in her decision to build the bridge with funding from own resources. She was our Prime Minister who learned from her great father how to stand up for the truth. Most people in the country believe that through some national and international catalysts there were allegations of corruption in World Bank projects based on a conspiracy theory. They were happy to think that the decision to withdraw funds from the World Bank project would put the government in an awkward position as the construction of the Padma Bridge was an election pledge of the Awami League government. They were even happy to think that a large number of people living in the Khulna region of the country, which is considered the fertile ground of the Awami League, would vote against the party out of resentment.
Even the BNP chairperson has repeatedly said that the Padma bridge will not be built during the tenure of the Awami League government. She urged the countrymen not to travel on the bridge as it could collapse. However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did not let the people be unhappy for too long as she was committed to building the bridge with internal funding. It was not easy for the government to take such a decision considering the economic condition of the country. However, she gave courage to many of us to dream like his father who inspired the people to dream of becoming an independent Bangladesh during the war of liberation. Our Prime Minister deserves praise for taking a strong stand against the World Bank's allegations of corruption in the project. This kind of decision reflects her strong mentality. If she had accepted the World Bank's allegations of imaginary corruption, it would have been disrespectful to the government.
With the installation of the 41st span, the Padma Bridge is now visible. The government has already indicated that the bridge could be inaugurated on March 26, 2022, the country's Independence Day. It would be a great decision if the government could launch the bridge on Independence Day 2022. The Padma Bridge is the product of the long-standing aspirations of the people of the Khulna region. This will not only reduce travel time, but also open up new horizons of business and investment in the region. Medium and large scale industries will be set up in different parts of Khulna and adjoining districts. This will further strengthen the ties between different parts of the country and the port of Mongla. This will further strengthen regional connectivity.
We all know that transport plays an important role in the development of any country. The construction of this bridge will enable the people of this region to share their wealth with other regions of the country in the shortest possible time. Thus, it will play a positive role in the economic development of our country and as a result, unprecedented development of the country will take place soon. The bridge will also make a huge contribution to the country's tourism industry, which will also help the government earn foreign exchange. Considering the positive impact of this bridge, the government expects that the country's GDP will increase from 1.50% to 2% after the completion of the bridge, which is a positive development in the context of the country.
The plight of the members of the construction team during the construction of this bridge should be taken very seriously as we all know that the river Padma is known as Kirtinasa due to its rage and intensity. As a result, it is very difficult to manage the construction work on this Padma. This river is also known for its unpredictable nature with eroding and catastrophic features. After a period of about 12 years, the main flow of the river has shifted from one side to the other, changing the two banks of the river. Considering the brutality of the river and the fast flowing nature, building such a bridge over it was unimaginable at one time. Therefore, engineers have to consider different strategies to deal with the intensity of the river.
According to various sources, during the construction, the construction team had to build pillars at the bottom of the river at a height of about forty story building. From this we can easily guess how difficult it was to work on this project. It is also learned that many foreign engineers left the country after failing to fight the intensity of the river. However, the government and the concerned authorities did not lose interest in the construction of the bridge considering such difficulties. Therefore, all workers, engineers and project officials deserve special thanks and appreciation for their relentless efforts to ensure the implementation of an impossible project. Numerous difficulties, including the Covid-19 pandemic, have significantly affected the progress of the project. In the past few months, many workers have been affected by Covid-19, so authorities have struggled to find enough workers to complete the project on time.
The construction of the Padma Bridge with internal funding indicates the potential of the country's economy. The Prime Minister's courage shows the strong economic position of the country, which has been proved in Covid-19. Bangladesh's economy is doing relatively well at a time when many strong economies are struggling to cope with the changing times. The only one who deserves all the credit for this is our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who has proved that everything is possible if there is honesty and dedication. Her father brought independence of the country in 1971. He could not take the country where he wanted to because of the betrayal of a group of politicians and officers of the armed forces.
That is why our Prime Minister wants to fulfill her father's unfulfilled desires by taking Bangladesh to the list of developed countries. Under her leadership, the country is expected to be included in the list of middle-income countries by 2024. The main goal of the Prime Minister is to transform Bangladesh into a developed country by 2041. The construction of this Padma Bridge will be an important milestone for the economic development of the country. So the dream of Padma Bridge has started to take shape. The only architect of this bridge is our Prime Minister. Therefore, we should all jointly support the Prime Minister to take Bangladesh to the next level of development.
Dr. Pranab Kumar Pandey, Professor, Department of Public Administration, Rajshahi University