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Padma Bridge gets final touches before the June 25 grand opening

The start of vehicular traffic through the much-awaited Padma Bridge from the morning of June 26, a day after its ceremonial opening by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will herald a groundbreaking change in the country’s road communication.

Engineers and workers are working round the clock giving final touches to the country’s largest infrastructure project that will greatly shorten the travel time between the 21 southwestern districts and capital Dhaka.

The 6.15 km long bridge is also expected to boost trade and commerce with Bangladesh’s entire southwestern region.

Work on last stage underway

Shafiqul Islam, project director of the Padma Bridge, said they are working on some minor issues giving the final touches. “All sorts of work will be completed before the formal opening.”

He said that there will be 400 lights in the 40-pillar bridge and these are being tested in the process of fine tuning.

“We have to fix the angle of many lampposts and will be tested again. It will take some time to finish the work,” he said.

Besides, work is underway to install 200 more street lights and provide electricity on the connecting roads between the two ends of the bridge.

Inauguration & Invitations

Director (Administration) of Bangladesh Bridge Authority Rupam Anwar told UNB that about 3500 people will be invited for the inauguration ceremony of Padma Bridge.

He said that the work of sending invitation cards is in the final stage.

He added that the list of those who will be invited is underway. Invitations will start from next week.

“Leaders of various political parties including government and opposition parties, ministers, Members of Parliament (MPs), newspapers, news agencies, TV online radio editors, senior journalists and other eminent personalities will be invited,” he said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate Padma Bridge on June 25 at 10 am. “The Prime Minister's car will cross the four-lane bridge paying the first toll,” said PD Shafiqul.

A public meeting will be held after the inauguration at Jajira end where about 10 lakh people are expected to gather, he added.

He said 18 committees have been formed from the road transport and bridges ministry ahead of the inauguration on a number of subjects such as invitation, entertainment, traffic and transport.

Law enforcers will control the movement of vehicles during the inauguration ceremony. There will be no entry except for certain vehicles, especially during the Prime Minister's stay.

As a result, people will have to wait around the bridge area to get on the bridge only if the law enforcement forces allow them, said the PD.

According to the bridge department, the Padma Bridge will remain open from noon onwards on the inauguration day. Discussions are going on at different levels of the government about what will be done during this time.

If people are allowed to walk, there is no opportunity to allow vehicles to cross the bridge at that time to avoid accidents as there are no separate walkways.

However, before the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the government will issue a public notice on when the vehicles will be able to move and for how long if the general public is given access.

Fares & Toll

The government on May 17 finalised the toll rate for different types of vehicles for crossing the Padma Bridge, according to a gazette notification issued by Bridges Division under road transport and bridges ministry.

According to the notification, Tk 100 toll has been fixed for motorbike, Tk 750 for private car and jeep, Tk 1200 from pick-up, Tk 1300 for microbus, Tk 1400 for small bus (with 31 seats), Tk 2000 for middle bus (with 32 seats), Tk 2400 for big size bus, Tk 1600 for small truck (5 tonnes), Tk 2100 for middle size truck (over 5 tonnes to 8 tonnes), Tk 2800 for middle size truck (over 8 tonnes to 11 tonnes), Tk 5500 for big truck (up to 3 excel) Tk 6000 for trailer truck (4 excel) and Tk 6,000 plus for trailer (over 4 excel).

On June 7, the government raised the bus fares on 13 routes adding the toll fixed for crossing the Padma Bridge to go to different south-western districts.

Citing the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA)’s notification, it said the fare has been revised to 40-seat (excluding driver) bus instead of 51-seat after adding the toll of Padma Bridge.

According to the notification, the bus fare on Dhaka-Bhanga-Madaripur-Barishal route has been fixed at Tk 412. Apart from this, the fare on Dhaka-Rajoir-Gopalganj route is Tk 504 while on Dhaka-Gopalganj-Khulna at Tk 649, Dhaka-Jajira-Shariatpur route Tk 218, on Dhaka-Barishal-Pirojpur Tk 534, on Dhaka-Gopalganj-Bagerhat-Pirojpur Tk 628, on Dhaka-Barishal-Patuakhali Tk 501 and on Dhaka-Bhanga-Madaripur Tk 327.

Besides, the fare on Dhaka-Gopalganj-Khulna-Satkhira is Tk 633 while Tk 288 on Dhaka-Bhanga-Faridpur, Tk 653 on Dhaka-Madaripur-Barishal-Bhola-Char Fashion, Tk 219 on Dhaka- Buriganga second bridge-Shariatpur, and Tk 694 on Dhaka-Madaripur-Barishal-Patuakhali-Kuakata.

This new rate will come into effect after the inauguration of the bridge.

Journey of Padma Bridge connecting country’s north with the south-west

Padma Bridge has been constructed 40 km southwest of the capital Dhaka. The bridge connects Mawa, Louhajang, Munshiganj with Jajira, Shariatpur, Shibchar and Madaripur at the southern end.

A pre-feasibility study of the bridge was done from 1998 to 2000. Then in 2001 the feasibility study was done with the help of a Japanese company.

In July 2004, the government decided to build the Padma Bridge between Mawa and Jajira on the recommendation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

In 2008, the caretaker government finalised a consultancy firm to design the Padma Bridge. The final design of the 6.15 km bridge was done.

Approval at ECNEC meeting:

In 2007, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project with a cost of Tk 10,161.75 crore was approved at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting. Later, as the design changes and the length increases, so does the construction cost.

In 2011, Ecnec approved a revised cost of Tk 20,507.20 crore. In 2016, when the expenditure increased again by Tk 8,286 crore, the total cost stood at Tk 28,793.39 crore.

The total cost finally accelerated to Tk 30,193.38 crore which was fully funded by the government.

A team of international and national consultants led by the American multinational engineering firm AECOM has designed the two-storey bridge with rail link. The approach road to the Padma Bridge at both ends (Jajira and Mawa) is 14 km long.

The project duration is estimated from January 1 of 2009 to June 30 next year. Around 4,000 people worked under this project.

China Major Bridge Company under China Railway Group Limited was contracted for the construction of the main bridge and SINOHYDRO Corporation Limited of China for the link road of which the contract value was Tk 12,133,39 crore and Tk 8,707.81 crore respectively.

The construction work started on November 26 in 2014. Date of completion of work as per contract was November 25 in 2018. Later the time got extended. The amount of land acquisition is 2,693.21 hectares for the bridge.

Rail Link

On October 14 last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened the construction work on a rail link between Dhaka and Jashore under the ‘Padma Bridge Rail Link Construction Project.’

The first phase of the ‘Padma Bridge Rail Link Construction Project’ will establish a rail link between Mawa and Bhanga via Janjira and Shibchar through the Padma Bridge.

This will connect Dhaka, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Shariatpur, Madaripur, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Narail and Jashore.

China Railway Group Limited, a Chinese government-nominated contractor, is implementing the project under the China G2G system.

The train service from Dhaka to Bhanga through the Padma Bridge is expected to be opened in March next year, said Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan on May 15.

There were plans to open Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga rail service on the day of opening of the Padma Bridge, but it was not possible to work on the upper part of the bridge as the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project Authority did not get the permission due to technical reasons, he said.

He said the progress of 39 kms railway from Dhaka to Mawa is about 60.4 per cent while the progress of 42 km railway from Mawa to Bhanga is 78 per cent and Bhanga to Jashore is 49.5 per cent.

The overall progress of the railway bridge from Dhaka to Jashore is 57.50 per cent and the total 172 km railway project from Dhaka to Jashore will be completed in 2024, he added.

The rail line of Padma Bridge project is about 169 km from Dhaka to Jashore.

The cost of this project has been estimated at around Tk 40,000 crore. The government of Bangladesh will finance about Tk 18,000 crore and the Chinese government will provide the rest of the money.

Source: United News of Bangladesh