Apart from its gigantic structure, the six-kilometre span Padma Bridge also reflects on the growing production and quality muscle of local companies since nearly 25% of the construction materials used in the project have come from within the country.
Moreover, Bangladeshi companies supplied all the steel rod, cement, brick and sand required in building the mega-structure while local contractors, sub-contractors, engineers and workers showed their competence beside their foreign counterparts to shape the country's dream into reality.
This also means that one-third of the Tk30,000 crore mega-project spending will ultimately remain within the country.
Steel re-rolling mill BSRM alone meets 86% of the total demand for rods, while Bashundhara and HeidelbergCement Bangladesh dominate cement supply – setting up a shining example about their production capacity and quality.
More than 4 crore geo bags for river training came from a local enterprise while Sylhet's Moulvibazar is catering a total of 500 crore cubic feet sand for the project.
The products and materials from local resources qualified for the construction after passing multiple inspections and tests in both domestic and foreign labs.
Besides, many Bangladeshi engineers and contractors were involved in the construction led by the China Major Bridge Engineering Company.
For instance, local contractor Abdul Monem Ltd teamed up with a Malaysian venture for Tk1,500 crore river training and connecting road construction on both sides of the river. The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) and some other local organisations provided the project with technical assistance worth more than Tk1,000 crore.
Bridges Division Secretary Mohammad Belayet Hossain said foreign engineers completely controlled the quality of locally manufactured construction materials used in the bridge.
"The quality of BSRM steel is better than any other global manufacturer. Bashundhara and Scan Cement are also the best. Chinese engineers had also certified the use of concrete mixes and other elements produced locally," he told The Business Standard.
1 lakh tonne rods all from Bangladesh
The main task of the project was to build the bridge spanning 6.15 kilometres, the world's 122nd longest bridge, on the mighty river. Dividing the total stretch into 40 parts, the structure of the bridge was made by installing 42 spans on 43 piers.
Installing steel structure spans have cost the most. All the 42 spans were made in China's Hubei province and then shipped to the project site. The first span was installed on 30 September 2017, and the last one on 10 December this year.
The construction of the total of 118 piers, including 43 on the river and 76 on the shore, sourced steel rods, cement, concrete and sand from local companies. The lion's share of rod supply came from BSRM Steel.
The project, including the connecting roads, used a total of 1 lakh tonnes of steel rod. BSRM was the sole supplier of 86,000 tonnes for pier making and river training while the remaining came from other local steel manufacturers.
Dewan Md Abdul Kader, executive engineer (Bridge) of the project, said, "We have sourced around 90,000 tonnes of rods in the entire project from BSRM alone. The steel re-roller had to go through multiple factory inspections and quality tests."
When contacted, BSRM Managing Director Aameir Alihussain said they produced 40mm and 50mm rods in line with the project requirement – and manufacturing of such rods was first in the country as well as in the sub-continent.
Aameir said they have already supplied around 80,000 tonnes of rods and the remaining construction of the bridge will require another 6,000 tonnes.
After BSRM, KSRM was the second largest steel rod supplier to the project.
No cement was imported
Bangladeshi companies met the entire demand for cement in the bridge project.
Khandaker Kingshuk Hossain, chief marketing officer (Cement Sector) of Bashundhara Group, told TBS that their cement was qualified for the project after close assessment of production capacity, supply system and quality.
The main project has three components – construction of approach road, river training and the main bridge. Construction of approach roads entirely used Bashundhara cement while the group was the main supplier in river training, too.
Bashundhara teamed up with Scan Cement on the main bridge construction.
Khandaker Kingshuk said an agreement had been signed to supply 7 lakh tonnes of cement for the bridge's rail link construction.
In the meantime, the Scan Cement producer HeidelbergCement Bangladesh Director Ashraful Alam Badal said they had been supplying cement to the project since 2015 for the piling of the main bridge.
"We finally got the contract after several factory inspections and quality testing in local and foreign labs," he added.
Bashundhara Cement has provided 4 lakh tonnes of cement for river training while Crown Cement has also supplied 9,000 tonnes. The construction material also came from Abul Khair Group's Shah Cement and Seven Circle Group's Seven Rings Cement.
Crown Cement said it increased its production capacity to supply to the project. Its adviser Masud Khan said a huge amount of local cement will also be used in rail and road connections of the project.
Local cement was also used to make 1.5 crore concrete blocks for the project.
River training was one the major challenges for the Padma Bridge construction. China's Sinohydro Corporation completed the Tk9,000 crore task with most of the supplies from local companies.
Local enterprises also dominated the excavation of the riverbed, dumping of blocks and geo-bags and embankment development.
A local company, DIRD Felt Ltd, supplied more than 4 crore geo bags while domestic suppliers are providing the pier and link road constructions with more than 500 crore cubic feet of sand. This construction material comes from Sylhet's Moulvibazar district.
The stones used in the project, however, came from Dubai, India and Indonesia.
Bangladeshi companies in contract works too
Around Tk21,000 crore river training and main bridge work was done by the main contractor for the bridge, China Major Bridge Engineering Company Limited.
Some of the world's major companies also accomplished sub-contracts worth Tk2,000 crore. Among them, Abdul Monem Limited of Bangladesh worked with other international companies such as the KAC of South Korea, the HCM JV of Malaysia and Sinohydro of China.
Abdul Monem with the HCM JV has implemented Tk193 crore work on the Mawa Link Road and about Tk1,100 crore on the Jajira Link Road. The local company alone implemented the Service Area-2 project worth Tk203 crore.
An official of Abdul Monem said, "We have used our own equipment for the connecting road development. We used locally-made bricks, sand and imported bitumen, while imported stones had to be used in this work."
Bridges Division Secretary Mohammad Belayet Hossain said several companies besides Abdul Monem worked in the bridge on sub-contracts.
Jahidul Islam and Shamsuddin Illius also contributed to this report.