5.4km of the bridge is now visible, and it is likely to open for traffic in 2022
The long-awaited Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project (PMBP) will transform the lives of nearly 30 million people living in the country's southwest region once completed, according to various studies.
A total of 5.4km of the Padma Bridge is now visible, following the installation of the 36th span on Friday. The bridge is expected to open in 2022.
Visits to Munshiganj, Shariatpur and Faridpur district revealed that there have already been several changes to the areas, as compared to a few years ago, due to the project. The actual opening of the bridge will give the region a new shape.
In alignment with the newly constructed Dhaka-Mawa expressway, hundreds of areas are being developed for housing. It was found that many people were hoping or planning to boost their business using ther Padma bridge, with an excellent road already connected to the bridge.
A group of people were gossiping at a tea stall in Bhanga intersection of Faridpur district. They were discussing the potential impact of Padma bridge.
Shafiqul Islam, a middle-aged farmer who had no formal education, believes people will be encouraged to cultivate the land once they get easy access to electricity for pumping water through the project.
He also expects the Padma Bridge to facilitate business for farmers as they will be able to move and sell their produce in Dhaka and Chittagong easily.
Anower Hossain, another farmer, said he has 1.5 acres of land that he had been cultivating in the traditional way. Now, he has received training from a local agriculture office to establish a dairy farm and he plans to send the produce to Dhaka.
Others predicted that consistent power supply in the Faridpur region may lead to massive industrialization.
A recent study titled “Impact, construction challenge to overcome for Padma Bridge” by Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology (AUST) found that the economy of the southwestern region was dependent on the irrigation system. Lack of power currently forces local farmers to use fuel-based irrigation pumps instead of the more efficient electric pumps.
ASM Fahad Hossain, assistant professor of AUST, said the Padma Multipurpose Bridge would significantly help improve various parts of the economy, both nationally and regionally”
“With the bridge, capital inflow will increase, promoting industrial and commercial activity, as well as increasing economic and employment opportunities for the local population’ he added.
According to the AUST study, around 30 million people living on 25% of the southern land of the country will get multimodal transport facilities through the project. Introduction of both road and rail routes will help to transport raw materials from Chittagong and Mongla ports at a cheaper rate.
The distance from Dhaka to nearly all major destinations in the southwest region will be reduced by a 100 kilometers or more, and the hauling time of vehicles will be reduced by over 3 hours per trip, bringing considerable savings in passenger and commodity movement time and costs as well as consumption of fuel.
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said the travel time between Dhaka and Khulna by railway will come down to four hours, from the current nine-ten hours, once the Padma Bridge opens.
When he recently visited the proposed Bhanga railway station, he told Dhaka Tribune: “We can start operation of the Padma Rail Link the same day of opening the Padma Bridge between Mawa and Bhanga section.
At the same time, overloaded vessels frequently sink in this waterway when passing through the turbulent confluence of the Padma. There will be less strain on ferries once the bridge is opened.
Construction of Padma Multipurpose Bridge will connect the southwestern part of the country with the national power grid, facilitating rapid industrialization.
According to the AUST study, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge will bring the power necessary for industrialization to the doorstep of the common people, leading industries of various scale and dimension to flourish in the region.
“Once the bridge opens, we can see how quickly the southern area of the country will be transforming,” said Prof Shamim Z Bosunia, chairman of the government’s expert panel on the Padma Multipurpose Bridge.
“The construction challenge has already been overcome, so now we are just waiting for the completion of the remaining task,” he added.
Mohammed Belayet Hossain, secretary of the Bridge Division, told Dhaka Tribune the 6.15km long Padma Bridge will be fully visible in December 2020. However, the total construction will not be finished by June 2021.
The bridge is expected to open for traffic in 2022, but this is not yet finalized.