Analysing the reports of pre-feasibility study and feasibility studies, it was found there was a discussion in the beginning whether the problem can be solved by increasing the number of ferries and developing the ferry terminals. The consultants, however, showed there is frequent erosion by the Padma river. So ferry terminals are shifted repeatedly. River crossing on ferries and other river transport is difficult due to strong current. People die in launch capsizes. River transport is also time-consuming. River can be crossed quicker if bridges are built. Additional number of people, transport and goods can be transported over the bridge.
Later a decision was taken that a bridge will be built over the Padma river. Questions arose where the Padma bridge will be built. Experts analysed the good and bad of four alternative routes during the feasibility study and two alternative routes during the pre-feasibility study. At last the decision was taken to construct the bridge at Mawa-Jajira points.
A consulting firm of joint venture RPT-NEDECO-BCL worked for the pre-feasibility study. They worked between May 1999 and February 2001 and submitted a report. They conducted a comparative analysis for the construction of the bridge-Paturia-Daulatdia route and Mawa-Jajira route. They showed travelling costs will decrease, rehabilitation expenditure will be less and river training will be easier if the bridge is constructed at Mawa.
The construction of a tunnel under the river instead of constructing bridge was also discussed. But the consulting firm did not recommend the tunnel due to technological complications and high costs. They suggested a four-lane bridge and rail communication.
The consultants primarily estimated the cost at about Tk 50 billion at that time if the bridge with road and rail communication is built at Mawa. The cost will be at about Tk 55 billion if it is built at Paturia.
Four locations were under consideration
Nippon Koei Ltd. got the contract for the feasibility study. They submitted the report by 2004 suggesting location as Mawa-Jajira. The government agreed to it.
At the beginning the consulting firm analysed four probable routes for the construction of the bridge. Those were: Paturia-Goalanda, Dohar-Charbhadrason, Mawa-Jajira and Chandpur-Bhadorganj. Dohar-Charbhadrason and Chandpur-Bhadorganj were dropped in the beginning of analysis. In these two routes, the river is so wide that the length of the bridge would be 10 kilometers. So the main competition takes place between Mawa-Jajira and Paturia-Goalanda.
It was seen that the length of main bridge both at Mawa-Jajira and Paturia-Goalanda will be a bit over 6 kilometers. The river bank at Mawa end is stable. As a result, the cost of river training will be less. According to the estimation, more transport will ply if the bridge is built at Mawa Jajira. Without railway connection, the construction of bridge at Mawa will cost Tk 67 billion. The cost will be higher if it is built at Paturia.
Benefits of the bridge
According to the feasibility study, it takes two hours via Mawa to cross the river on ferry. It takes 35 minutes to cross river at Paturia. Besides, goods laden vehicles have to wait for two and a half hours and bus for two hours at the ferry terminals.
If the Padma Bridge is launched, communication will be easier and it will have a positive impact on the economy. The GDP of the country will increase by 1.23 per cent while the GDP of the south-western region will increase by 2.3 per cent.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.