Here is how the historic dream project of much hyped Padma Multipurpose Bridge turned into reality.
The pre-feasibility test of building the Padma Bridge was conducted in 1999 by the Awami League government. On 4 July 2001, the then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Padma Bridge.
After a detailed study, the Japanese donor agency JICA recommended the construction of the Padma Bridge at the Mawa-Jazira end in 2004.
The bridge project hit a snag as the World Bank in 2012 cancelled its $1.2 billion credit, saying it had evidence of a corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and individuals.
Work on the main bridge began in November 2014. According to the bridge department, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction of the main bridge on 12 December 2015.
The first span of the Padma Bridge was installed in 2017. It took about three years and two months to install the remaining 40 spans. After the delay caused by flood situation and global coronavirus pandemic, 10 spans were installed in the last two months. With the installation of the 41st span today (10 December) the entire 6.15km bridge from Munshiganj's Mawa to Shariatpur's Zajira is visible.
The government is planning to open the Padma Bridge to traffic in December 2021. However, the relevant sources say, it may take a little more time.
Work In Progress
Bangladesh signed an agreement worth Tk 12,133 crore to build the Padma Bridge with a Chinese firm named China Major Bridge Engineering Company on 17 June 2014. The construction work was set to start by November and end by 2018.
After the work began, part of a batching plant at the construction site in Mawa fell victim to river erosion. In 2016, soft soil was found under 22 poles in the soil test leading the design to be modified.
As a result, the work took about an extra year than planned.
As of November 2020, 91 percent of the work on the main bridge has been completed.
The cost of the Padma Bridge project passed by ECNEC was Tk 10,162 crore in 2008. Expenditure was increased to Tk 20,507 crore in 2011. After the second phase budget amendment in 2016, the expenditure stood at Tk 28,793 crore. Later in June 2017, the expenditure increased again to Tk 30,193 crore without amending the project proposal. Another amendment of the proposal might be needed before the project is completed.
It has been mentioned that the completion of the Padma Bridge project will increase the GDP at the rate of 1.23 percent. Moreover, the GDP of the south-western region of the country will grow by 2.3 percent.
The much-hyped Padma Bridge will connect 21 districts in the south. Moreover direct communication will be established between Mongla Port and Benapole Land Port through the capital and port city Chattogram.
According to Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujon, the railway line from Dhaka to Bhanga in Faridpur will be launched with the opening of the Padma Bridge. Moreover, the railway line from Dhaka to Jashore will be operational if the ongoing work is completed by 2024.
The Padma Bridge is made with a mixture of steel and concrete. The main structure of the bridge, known as span, is made of steel, while the poles and vehicular pathways are made of concrete.
The length of the main bridge on the mighty River Padma is 6.15 km. However, about four kilometers more bridges have already been built on both sides. This is called viaduct.
This will be a two-story bridge. Vehicles will run on the concrete slabs made on the top of steel spans and the train will run through the spans.
It will be a 22 meters wide road divided into four lanes.
The railway will carry both meter-gauge and broad-gauge trains.
When both ways reach the viaduct, the path of vehicles and trains will be merged separately with the ground.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) conducted a detailed survey in 2009, which shows that some 24,000 vehicles will pass through the bridge if inaugurated at the beginning of 2022. The number will increase every year and is estimated to reach more than 67,000 vehicles by 2050.