Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said the Padma Bridge will be a befitting reply to those who tried to tarnish the country’s image and obstruct its march forward once the project is implemented with Bangladesh’s own funding.
“By constructing the Padma Bridge, we’ll give a befitting reply to those who tried to tarnish the country’s image, obstruct its development and put a hurdle to the way of people’s journey towards overcoming the poverty line,” she said.
The Prime Minister was addressing a rally after unveiling the name plaque of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, plaque of progress work on the 6.15-kilometre bridge on Mawa side, ‘Padma Bridge Rail Link Construction Project’ and permanent river bank protection works adjacent to the main river.
She also saw the overall progress work of the bridge on the Mawa side, inspected the progress of the Dhaka-Mawa and Pachchar-Bhanga parts of the N-8 Highway and inaugurated the construction work on the rail link on the Mawa side.
Sheikh Hasina said the government will ensure an improved and beautiful life for the county’s people by constructing the bridge with its own funding.
Mentioning that the country’s current GDP growth is 7.86 percent, she said it will be possible to increase it by another 1.2 percent once the bridge is constructed. “After constructing the rail link, the country will be able to attain 2 percent more growth,” she hoped.
The Prime Minister said the government’s target to attain 10 percent GDP growth will not be a tough job on completion of the rail and road on the Padma Bridge.”My lone aim and task are to change the fate of people keeping up the existing development trend,” she said.
Talking about Nobel Laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus’ ‘conspiracy’ against the construction of the Padma Bridge, she said he had just done that for securing his managing director post at Grameen Bank which he lost for exceeding the age limit.”Losing his MD post, he went to the court. But the court gave its verdict against him as his age was 72 years where the maximum age limit for the post of MD is 60 years in Bangladesh.”
Hasina said Dr Yunus had also engaged then US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Cherry Blair, wife of the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to lobby for him. “They called me several times, but I told them that the law doesn’t permit DrYunus to stay there in the MD post.”
She said the Nobel Laureate along with the editor of a newspaper of the country convinced Hilary Clinton through sending several emails to withdraw the World Bank funding from the Padma Bridge.
Without taking permission from the Board, the then World Bank President on the last day of his office signed the fund withdrawal paper of the Padma Bridge citing corruption in the construction work, the Prime Minister said.”When I asked for the proof of the corruption, they failed to show the documents,” she said.
“Even, the World Bank said they might again come with funding if we remove our minister, secretary and so on. But I told them clearly that without any proper proof, Iwould not do anything,” she added.
They had also alleged that her son Sajeeb Wazed Joy and younger sister Rehana were involved in the corruption, Hasina said, adding: “At that time, I said enough is enough. We don’t need your money….we’ll construct the bridge with our own resources.”
She said no one, even members of her own party, could believe at that time that the bridge could be constructed without the World Bank funding.
The Prime Minister also said after evaluating all the materials and documents, the Canadian Federal court gave its verdict trashing the World Bank’s corruption allegation in the Padma Bridge construction as baseless, untrue and gaseous.
“There was a conspiracy from home and abroad behind withdrawal of the WB fund. It’s very much unfortunate that the people behind this conspiracy and instigators are some people from our own country,” she said.
Hasina also mentioned that these people have no love for the country and no duty towards its people.”And how the patriotism will come when they take interest from the poor, become rich taking interest from the poor? This interest monger can’t love the country and its people. This is the reality,” she said.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Army chief General Aziz Ahmed and Railways Minister Md Mazibul Hoque also spoke on the occasion.