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Padma Bridge will transform trade and connectivity in Bangladesh

Padma Bridge will transform trade and connectivity in Bangladesh

Former Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Atiur Rahman, has termed the under-construction 6.15 km Padma Bridge as an iconic symbol of the country's capability.

The Padma Bridge is a multipurpose road-rail bridge across the Padma River to be constructed in Bangladesh. When completed it will be the largest bridge in Bangladesh and the first fixed river crossing for road traffic. It will connect Louhajong, Munshiganj to Shariatpur and Madaripur, linking the south-west of the country, to northern and eastern regions.

“This is our national pride. This is going to be another milestone of our heroic struggle for economic freedom. The fighting spirit instilled by Bangabandhu in our national psyche has been the main driving force behind the courageous decision by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the face of false accusations of ‘corruption’ by an international development partner,” Rahman was quoted as saying by Bangladeshi newspaper <em>Daily Sun</em>.

According to the report, experts reckon that Padma Bridge, a dream project of Bangladesh, will transform trade and connectivity significantly, ushering a new era of economic development in the country, experts have said. Apart from the economic aspects, they said the implementation of the Padma Bridge project with the country’s own fund has also proved the capacity of Bangladesh before the world.

“Padma Bridge will play a pivotal role in the development of Bangladesh. Connectivity of south and west part of the country will get stronger to boost economic activities,” said Dr A B Mirza Azizul Islam, a former finance adviser to the country's government.

There is no doubt that stronger connectivity is the prime factor for any sort of development and Padma Bridge will bring a major change in the life and livelihoods of people in around 30 districts, he added.

Construction of the Padma Bridge started in November 2015 during the tenure of Rahman as Bangladesh Bank governor. The report recalled the early days of the mega project with the noted economist mentioning that the country's Prime Minister took the decision alone at a time when the external economy has been growing by leaps and bounds with rising exports, remittances and foreign exchange reserves.

“Moreover, she (Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina) could easily foresee that this was economically a very viable project. So it was not difficult for her to take this milestone decision. We are happy to see this project coming to this far despite the pandemic,” he says.

According to Rahman, the Padma Bridge will add at least one per cent of GDP to Bangladesh's economy.

“Not only Southern Bangladesh will benefit immensely from this state of the art connectivity, the entire Bangladesh will be benefited by this mega infrastructure. We will be a part of the Asian Highway through this mega bridge. Mongla and Payra port will be more vibrant and add additional values to our trade and commerce. These ports will also facilitate trade and commerce with the adjoining regions of the neighbouring countries like India, Nepal and Bhutan,” said Rahman.

He predicted the rail connectivity through Padma Bridge will also boost tourism by facilitating cost-effective transportation of goods and people. Kuakata, Sundarbans, Tungipara with Bangabandhu’s mausoleum and Saat Gombuj mosque will attract a lot more tourists from Dhaka and the adjacent areas once Padma Bridge opens to traffic.

The mega project will boost the agro-based activities in the South as the farmers will benefit hugely as their perishable products will reach Dhaka within hours.

“The small and medium enterprises will flourish in Southern Bangladesh as poverty will fall and overall demand will go up with rising income. The climate refugees from the coastal belt will find jobs in their own surroundings easing accommodation and livelihood pressures on Dhaka and other mega cities.” Prof Atiur said.

According to the economist, the ship-building industry in Barisal, Khulna and Patuakhali will get a big boost and the business confidence in the southern region has already started going up as the construction of the bridge is nearing completion..