A new era is about to be ushered in through much pomp and many celebrations.
The two-decade journey of the Padma Bridge dream will finally come to a close on 10am on 25 June when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurates the mega infrastructure. The move will change the fortunes of 19 districts in the south and south-west of the country.
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.
But the inauguration date, announced by Awami League General Secretary and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader after a meeting with the PM on Tuesday noon, has put to rest all speculations.
The minister said the bridge would be named after the river and not any person.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had rejected the Bridges Division's proposal to name the long awaited bridge after her.
The construction of the 6.15 kilometre bridge was supposed to start in 2015, but cancellation of foreign aid for it and an increasing depth of the river, among other complications, delayed the work.
But for now, all that can be forgotten, as those involved with the project get ready to paint the country green and red.
According to sources, the Bridges Division is going to organise nationwide celebrations to commemorate the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the country's largest infrastructure.
The main event will be held at Mawa and Jajira on both sides of the Padma Bridge.
Md Monjur Hossain, secretary of the Bridges Division, told The Business Standard that the completion of the Padma Bridge was a great achievement and various events will be organised to celebrate it.
He said 18 committees have already been formed for the purpose and they had already begun work. The announcement of the final date for the inauguration by the prime minister would speed up the work, he added.
Engineer Shafiqul Islam, who has been the director of the project since November 2011, said the celebration was secondary, while the joy of bringing the project to its final stages after facing almost insurmountable challenges was a cause for great joy.
He said the work was only possible through the hard work of the government, and the bridge engineers, officials and workers.
Thanking those concerned, he said no major work was left anymore in the construction of the bridge.
The Padma Bridge project is being implemented at a cost of Tk30,193.39 crore with almost 100% internal funding.
Toll rate confirmed
The government has already finalised the toll rate for the Padma Bridge crossing in a gazette.
A motorcyclist will have to pay Tk100, while the toll is Tk2,400 for a large bus with three axles and Tk2,800 for a medium truck.
The toll for a car or an SUV has been set at Tk750; pickup van at Tk1,200; microbus at Tk1,300; minibus (up to 31 seats) at Tk1,400 and medium bus (32 seats or more) at Tk2,000.
In addition, a mini truck (up to five tonnes) will pay Tk1,600; medium truck (5-8 tonnes) Tk2,100; Tk2,800 for a truck carrying 8-11 tonnes; Tk5,500 for a truck (up to three axle) and Tk6,000 for those with up to four axles.
An additional Tk1,500 will be charged for each axle for a vehicle having more than four axles.
The toll rate will be implemented on the Dhaka-Mawa Bhanga Expressway from the day of inauguration of the bridge.
The project was approved by the ECNEC on 20 August 2008 at a cost of Tk 10,162 crore, to be completed by 2015. As no work was done, the first amendment was approved on 11 January 2011 at a cost of Tk20,506 crore.
At the time, the World Bank pledged $1,200 million in loans for the $2,900 million project. In addition, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed loan agreements worth $615 million, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) $415 million and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) $140 million.
If the loans had been disbursed, then 81.72% of the bridge construction cost would come as foreign aid.
At one stage, the World Bank, the lead financier, announced that it was withdrawing from financing the project, citing allegations of corruption.
Although the company later agreed to finance the project, it came with various conditions.
On June 17, 2014, the Bridges Division signed an agreement with China Major Bridge Engineering Co Ltd Company to build the main bridge. Work on the project started on 26 November of that year. The first span of the bridge was installed on 30 September of the following year. The last span of the bridge was laid on 10 December last year.
During this period, the cost of the project increased to Tk30,193.39 crore in several phases.
The pre-feasibility study for the construction of the Padma Bridge was carried out in 1999 with the government's own funding. The final feasibility study was done with the funding of JICA for the period 2003-2005. The bridge was designed with ADB funding.
Work on the main bridge has progressed 98%, revealed the recent progress report.
In all, the progress of the Padma Bridge project is 95%, highlighted in the report of the Bridges Division.
The length of the Padma Bridge (main bridge) is 6.15km. The two-way flyover (viaduct) is 3.8km. In all, the length of the bridge is 9.83km.
The bridge will make it easier and faster to travel to the south and southwest of the country.
In addition to facilitating movement, the Padma Bridge will have a positive impact on the economy.
According to a survey, once the Padma Bridge project is implemented, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) will increase at the rate of 1.23%. The GDP of the south-western region of the country will grow by 2.3%.