Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (25 June) inaugurated the Padma Multipurpose Bridge in a historic moment for the nation.
After inaugurating the bridge, the PM unveiled a plaque at the Mawa point commemorating the bridge. A special prayer was held at this time.
Following the inauguration, PM Hasina led the first motorcade to use the bridge to cross the Padma river.
Thirteen buses with 40 seats each followed the PM crossing Padma Bridge. First 2 buses carried ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers. Next to follow were members of the parliament, diplomats, secretaries, and political leaders.
PM Hasina's motorcade stopped on the Padma Bridge to watch the flypast organised to commemorate the inauguration of the bridge.
"At today's auspicious occasion I have no hatred, no antipathy for anyone. I just want to express my deep gratitude to the countrymen. I could manage to complete the impossible task only because they were beside me. And from the beyond, my father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and mother Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib gave me courage and blessings," the PM Hasina said in her speech during the inauguration ceremony of Padma Bridge.
"Bangladesh is now a developing country from an underdeveloped country. Per capita income has risen to $2,594. Reducing poverty, women empowerment, electricity in every home, and implementing Digital Bangladesh – the country is now lauded as a development model in many indicators," she added.
"By 2030-31 Bangladesh will implement the SDG and become a middle-income country, and by 2041 Bangladesh will be a developed and prosperous country. Let us all pledge to work for the betterment of the country on this historic day," said the PM.
Padma Bridge has proven to the world that Bangladesh can move forward on its own, PM Hasina said.
"The Padma Bridge has been completed. Bangladesh's economy has not collapsed. The country is moving forward at a breakneck pace. We have proved to the world, 'We can too'," the premier said.
"Padma Bridge is therefore not only a bridge to prove one's self-esteem and ability of the Bengalis, but also revenge to insult that was done to the entire nation. The people of Bangladesh are the source of my courage. I salute them."
PM Hasina arrived at Mawa point in Munshiganj around 9.55am to inaugurate the much-anticipated 6.15km Padma Bridge for vehicular movement. Earlier, a helicopter carrying the premier left Dhaka's Tejgaon Airport for Mawa at around 9:30am on Saturday (25 June).
Diplomats and government officials including secretaries, political leaders, and other invited guests were present at the grand opening programme.
Marking the grand opening of the dream project, a festive mood is prevailing in the country, particularly in the southern and southwestern region which will be directly facilitated through the major road connectivity.
Thousands of people gathered at the Padma Bridge inauguration site and praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for realising their dream and making the lives of the public easier.
As per the premier's programme schedule, the prime minister will also unveil commemorative postage stamps, souvenir sheets, opening day cover and seals at Mawa point to mark the grand opening of the country's biggest self-financed mega project which is likely to boost GDP by 1.2-2%.
Sheikh Hasina, also Awami League president, will join a public rally of the party marking the opening of the bridge at Kathalbari under Shibchar upazila in Madaripur district at 12pm. The premier will start for Dhaka from Jajira point by helicopter at 5:30pm.
The Padma Bridge project has been implemented at a cost of Tk30,193.39 crore with almost 100% internal funding which is believed to bring a new world to the country's economy by connecting 21 southwestern districts through roads and railways with the capital.
Starting in 1999 with a pre-feasibility study, construction of the bridge, which has since generated numerous headlines, has had its share of delays and even courted controversy.
The construction of the main bridge was carried out by China Major Bridge Engineering Company (MBEC), a Chinese contractor Company, and the river treatment was done by Sino Hydro Corporation of China.
The construction works began in December, 2015 as the premier inaugurated the river training work and main construction works of Padma Multipurpose Bridge project at Jajira point in Shariatpur district on 12 December in 2015. The first span of the Padma Bridge was installed at the Janjira point of Shariatpur on 7 October, 2017.
The prime minister formally laid the foundation stone of Padma Bridge at Mawa in Munshiganj on 4 July in 2001. The construction of the bridge was supposed to start in 2015, but the cancellation of foreign aid for it and an increasing depth of the river, among other complications, delayed the work.