The road transport and bridges ministry officials said that they are taking preparations with 25 June in mind as the probable date of inauguration. They are expecting final confirmation within a couple of days.

Sources in the government say, prime minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the bridge from Munshiganj’s Mawa point, cross the bridge in a car to the Zajira point of Shariatpur. She will then take part in further formalities. She is expected to attend a rally at the Kathalbari area of Shibchar upazila in Madaripur. Bridges division and Special Security Forces (SSF) officials surveyed the area last Sunday.

A source in bridges division said, two 40-feet murals containing portraits of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and prime minister Shiekh Hasina are being erected at the Mawa and Zajira end of the bridge. An inauguration nameplate is also being made.

Bridges division’s secretary Md Monzur Hossain told Prothom Alo, they are going ahead with their work, expecting that the Padma bridge will be operational by 30 June. He said, the date of inauguration will be officially announced once they get approval of the prime minister.

On Tuesday, the road transport and bridges ministry officially fixed tolls for different vehicles crossing the Padma bridge. The toll for motorbike has been set at Tk 100 and Tk 750 for car and jeeps, Tk 2,400 for long-haul buses and Tk 2,800 for medium sized trucks. Vehicles like autorickshaw and human haulers won’t be allowed to ride on the bridge.

A proposal was sent to prime minister Sheikh Hasina on 28 April to fix the toll chart for the Padma bridge. After getting approval from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), it was announced as a gazette on Tuesday.

According to the bridges division authorities, the prime minister approved the proposed toll chart without making any changes. According to the government-approved toll rate, it will cost one and a half times more to cross Padma river on bridge than it does when crossing it on ferry. Compared to the country’s second longest bridge Bangabandhu bridge, the cost is almost double.

Lights are all in place, soon to be illuminated

The Padma bridge will get electricity connection by 30 May, said officials. On 31 May or 1 June the lamp posts on the bridge will be lit. On 15 May, the bridges division sent a letter to Munshiganj’s Palli Bidyut Samity to provide electricity connection to the Padma bridge.

In the letter it was written that the work on Padma bridge will conclude on 30 June and the bridge will be opened for vehicles before that date. To make it possible, 80 kilowatts of electricity has to be supplied at the bridge by 30 May. The money for the electricity connection has already been paid at the Palli Bidyut Samity. On the same day a similar letter was sent to the Shariatpur Palli Bidyut Samity.

A total of 415 lampposts have been placed at Padma bridge. 328 of them are in the main bridge, 46 are at the Zajira end, 41 are at the Mawa end. The lampposts were in place by 18 April.

18 committees for inauguration

As part of its initiative to inaugurate the bridge in a flamboyant manner, the bridges division has formed 18 sub-committees with its officials to hold two separate programmes at both Mawa and Jazira points of the structure.

A committee has already started preparing invitation cards. Besides, there are committees for decoration, hospitality, and reception.

There will be a video exhibition at the inaugural event. Different types of gifts and souvenirs will be presented to the guests and a separate committee has also been formed in this regard.

The guests will be entertained at both ends of the bridge. Besides, the committees will maintain health safety, first aid and traffic management to ensure smooth implementation of the event.

A bridges division official seeking anonymity said the prime minister, cabinet members, veteran politicians, and diplomats will attend the function. As the Padma bridge is widely discussed at home and abroad, initiatives have been taken to make its inaugural function as attractive as possible.

Socio-economic changes

Some 19 south-western districts would be directly connected to the rest of the country once the bridge is opened to traffic. The travel time on this route will be minimized to one hour thanks to the already constructed Dhaka-Bhanga expressway, said officials of the roads and highways department.

According to the project progress report, work on the main bridge has completed by 98 percent till April while the progress of river training is 92 percent. The total progress is 95 per cent.

The length of Padma bridge is 6.15 km while the approach road on both sides is 3.68 kilometers. In total, the length of Padma bridge is 9.83 km which connected Mawa of Munshiganj and Jazira of Shariatpur.

The cost of the Padma bridge project has been estimated at Tk 30,193 crore. Officials said the project is likely to be revised again before the bridge is commissioned.

However, the authorities are yet to finalise if the cost will rise further or not, said sources.

Travellers will experience easier trips to south and south-western parts of the country through the Padma bridge. In addition to facilitating smooth movement, the Bridge will have a positive impact on the economy.

According to a survey, once the bridge is opened, the gross domestic product (GDP) will increase at the rate of 1.23 per cent while the GDP increase rate will be 2.3 per cent for south and south-western areas.

Read more from Bangladesh
Post Comment