Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana today visited the Padma Bridge to witness the progress of the country's largest infrastructure project.
The premier along with her convoy reached the bridge at 7.23am on Friday morning.
During the visit, she took a two-kilometre stroll on the bridge's 7-18 no pillars with Sheikh Rehana.
After attending a breakfast event arranged by the bridge authority at the Janzira point, Hasina left the bridge area at around 10am.
The PM looked all cheerful and content as she inspected the progress of the construction sites of the much-awaited Padma Bridge.
After the last span installation on 9 December, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge is now 6,150 metres long and ranks just over the Oland Bridge of Sweden.
Padma Bridge is the 122nd longest bridge in the world, according to Wikipedia.
The Padma Bridge became visible on 30 September 2017 with the installation of the first span on pillars 37 and 38. After 38 months, the work of installing all the spans was completed.
The bridge's toll plaza, connecting road and other structures have fallen in Shibchar of Madaripur, involving three districts with the Padma Bridge. The bridge's length on the river body is 6.15km, being joined with 41 spans – each 150 metres long - on 42 pillars.
The two-storey metal and concrete bridge will offer road transports to ply on the upper floor and trains on the lower.
There will be 2,917 roadway slabs for road transports and 2,959 railway slabs for trains. Of these, 1,239 road slabs and 1,860 railway slabs have been installed as of 30 November.
In addition, a 4-kilometre viaduct on both sides of the bridge has already been constructed and it includes no steel span.
However, according to Project Director Md Shafiqul Islam, the bridgework may be completed by 2022 as the work has been delayed due to the pandemic.
In 2007, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the Padma Bridge construction project at a cost of Tk10,162 crore.
The bridge was earlier slated to be commissioned by 2013. Later, the project expenditure was revised up thrice to Tk20,507 crore in 2011, Tk28,793 crore in 2016 and Tk30,193 crore in 2018. As a result, the project cost has almost tripled.
The World Bank pledged $1,200 million, ADB $615 million, Jica $415 million and IDB $140 million for the $2.9 billion Padma Bridge project to bring the people of 19 south-western districts under better connectivity.
However, the World Bank decided to refrain from financing the project over allegations of corruption plots. Other donors followed the footsteps of the World Bank.
Later, the Bangladesh government decided to build the bridge with its own funds in 2014 rejecting allegations of corruption.
At one stage, the allegations of corruption proved unfounded in a Canadian court. An investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh also did not find evidence of corruption in the project.