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The government plans to open Padma bridge in December 2021, though concerned quarters say it may take a bit longer. Two decades of waiting will come to an end with the opening of the bridge. In 1999 the Awami League government carried out a pre-feasibility study for the construction of Padma bridge. It was basically from then that the people of the south and the southwest began looking forward to the bridge.

The ADB study stated that the 24,000 vehicles to cross the bridge in 2022 will include 8,238 buses, 10,244 trucks and 5000 microbuses and cars. It also said that by 2025, the number of vehicles crossing Padma bridge will be 27,800 per day. By 2030 this will go up to 36,785. In 2040, the number of vehicles crossing the bridge daily will be 51,807.

According to the bridges department, prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction work of the main bridge on 12 December 2015. On 30 September 2017, the first span was placed in the bridge. And today, Thursday, the 41st and last span has been put in place.

The ADB study stated that the 24,000 vehicles to cross the bridge in 2022 will include 8,238 buses, 10,244 trucks and 5000 microbuses and cars. It also said that by 2025, the number of vehicles crossing Padma bridge will be 27,800 per day. By 2030 this will go up to 36,785. In 2040, the number of vehicles crossing the bridge daily will be 51,807.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, additional chief engineer (Dhaka zone) of the roads and highways department, Sabuj Uddin Khan, said that once Padma bridge starts operating, at least two hours will be saved in the commute between the capital city and the districts of the south. This will have an important contribution not just to local communication, but also for regional communication.

Increased vehicular movement leads to increased economic activities. In 2009, ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) carried out a study on what would be the benefits gained by the construction of Padma bridge. This indicated that the economic rate of return (ERR) of investing in the bridge would be 18 to 22 per cent per year. This may increase in future because, as officials of the bridge department pointed out, before Bangabandhu Bridge opened, it had been estimated that the ERR would be 15 per cent. In actuality, it went up to 18 per cent.

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The people of the south are now waiting for Padma bridge to begin functioning. Sohel Rana, former headmaster of Padma Bridge Primary School of Bakhrerkandi in Shibchar, Madaripur, told Prothom Alo, whether it is education, health or anything else, the southern region is still neglected. It is backward compared to other regions. But once Padma bridge is complete, there will be a huge improvement in communications with the capital city. He said, this will bring an expansion to business. There will be new industries. At the end of the day, this will have a positive impact on the socioeconomic condition of the southern region.

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