It was noon at the Jomadder Stand in the Paschim Naodoba union in Zajira. A squadron of five aircraft were tearing through the sky with a loud noise, leaving behind trails of colourful smoke.
Next came a fleet of helicopters with banners bearing portraits of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and a picture of the Padma Bridge – one after another.
This was the rehearsal for the inauguration ceremony of the long-awaited Padma Multiple Purpose Bridge.
Security has been beefed up in the whole area ahead of the gala event.
Sixty-year-old Noor Ahmed Morol along with a group of elderly men were talking at length about the Padma Bridge and its opening ceremony, sitting at a tea stall.
"When I was about 40, I heard for the first time that there would be a bridge in the area," said Noor Ahmed Morol.
That the bridge is now standing tall is a dreamlike occasion to him.
"I am happy because now I can go to Dhaka hassle-free. The new generation will not have to suffer while going to Dhaka," said Noor Ahmed Morol, who passed secondary school in 1975.
He believes the area will be flooded with mills and factories which will ultimately generate a lot of employment in the area.
Like Noor, people from all walks of life irrespective of their age and gender are in euphoria about the opening of the Padma Bridge.
They said crossing the river by ferry causes them to suffer all through the year. In winter, the ferry service is disrupted due to dense fog. In the monsoon, they have to remain in constant fear of a storm while travelling by small launches. Sometimes, the fear is due to a strong current when the ferry operations are postponed for one or two days. So, it was always uncertain.
They are happy because they will no longer have uncertainty about travelling. They will be able to reach the bridge in 10 minutes now.
The festive mood is not prevailing among local people only.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will hold a rally at the Zajira point tomorrow at 12pm. Security has been beefed up in the area. The local roads, as well as the highways, have been decorated with festoons. The Dhaka-Bhanga expressway has been decorated with light to express the festive mood.
"Everyone is happy," said Shimul Islam, a motorcycle rider. The 35-year-old man had never believed that one day the bridge would be built.
"Since my childhood, I had been hearing that Padma Bridge would be built here. I cannot express how happy I am," he said, adding, "Now we will be able to go to Dhaka very easily."
He also said not only people can easily go to Dhaka to receive healthcare, but many doctors will set up chambers in the area as well.
Nineteen-year-old Anni Akter was busy putting clothes under the sun. When asked how she was feeling about the Padma Bridge, she said she was very happy to learn that the prime minister will open the bridge for all tomorrow.
"I am always scared of the river. As such, crossing the river by ferry or a launch was always a terrifying experience for me. I will no longer have to be scared", said Anni Akhter.
She expressed hope that she would visit her relatives in Jatrabari in Dhaka soon once the bridge opens.
Madaripur's Deputy Commissioner Rahima Khatun told The Business Standard that the district administration has taken measures to make the event successful.
"Some 10 lakh people will attend the rally. We have set up facilities for drinking water, toilets as well as saline. Medical teams will be deployed too," said Rahima Khatun.