It always seems impossible until it is done as Nelson Mandela used to say. Once the Padma Multipurpose Bridge looked like that, but Bangladesh has taken it from dream to reality as its main piling and river training works began formally on Saturday.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the river training work of the dream bridge at Janzira in Shariatpur and unveiled the plaque of the main construction work of the 6.15-kilometre Bridge at Mawa point, taking the confidence of her government to a new level.
The government is building the Padma Bridge, the country’s largest infrastructure, with its own fund of Tk 28,000 crore overcoming all hurdles following the foreign fund withdrawal.
On completion of the project, nearly six crore people of 19 southern districts will be directly connected with the rest of the country, including the capital Dhaka which will help give a major boost to trade and economic activities in the country.
The work on the Padma Bridge is broadly divided into five parts — the main bridge, river training, two link roads and infrastructure (service area) construction.
The two-tier Padma Bridge has the provisions for movement of vehicles on the upper tier of the bridge and operation of train on the lower tier.
The China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Corporation was appointed for construction of the main bridge, while China’s Sinohydro Corporation for the river training.
Local firm Abdul Monem Limited was awarded the contract for the construction of two approach roads and infrastructure development.
Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) and Korea Expressway Corporation and Associates are supervising the bridge construction.
Assuming office in 1996, the Awami League government initiated the project in 1998 for the first time. After returning to power in 2009, it revived the initiative. Though the World Bank initially proposed funding much of the project, Bangladesh withdrew the funding request after the global lender raised a stink over alleged corruption.
In 2014, the government signed contracts with the two Chinese companies for the construction of the main bridge and the river training work.
The 18.10-metre wide and 21.29 km long bridge, including 6.15 km main bridge, 12 km approach road on both sides of Padma, 3.14 km overpass and 14 km river training, will be constructed at a total cost of Tk 28,000 crore.
According to the structure plan, the bridge would stand on 365 piles, including two viaducts, 240 steel piles, 24 broad piles and 42 piers, and the number of its spans would be 42.