Padma About 14% of the Padma Bridge project, including approach roads, rehabilitation and development of the project area, has been completed and now the main construction work of the bridge will begin.
Bridge division sources said, till last October, 28.5% of the Mawa Approach Road had been done. Progress on the Jajira Approach Road and the infrastructure was 20.5% and 10.56% respectively. Once work on the main bridge and river training begins, the progress would accelerate. Presently soil testing was being carried out for the main bridge. The next step will be to do piling on a test basis.
The Munshiganj, Shariatpur and Madaripur district administrations had been given Tk 10.7 billion for land acquisition under the project while a total of 2592 plots have been prepared for the rehabilitation of the displaced people. Till October, 790 plots were handed over to the affected ones.
Work is progressing with plans for road vehicles and trains to ply simultaneously along the bridge in 2018. A recent visit to the Mawa portion of the project saw work in full swing on both banks of the river Padma. Carnes were fitted on large barges to lift the heavy construction equipment. Large machinery was being used to excavate and even out the soil. Road construction and expansion work was underway. Trees on the river banks were being cut down, the river was being dredged and people were coming to the site in hope of work and business.
About a kilometre long residential facilities have been set up in the construction yard for the workers and the officers to stay. A few hundred workers are working there. Some are breaking bricks, some constructing buildings, while officers of the contractor companies, with their steel helmets, are issuing orders and instructions.
Shariatpur and Jajira are abuzz with a flurry of work, too. Sand, stones and bricks are being piled up, trucks are constantly arriving with loads of bricks, sand, cement, stones and soil, and large machinery is being used to flatten the ground.
The road transport and bridges ministry is in charge of implementing the Padma Bridge project. Officials of this division have said that the government is giving full priority to the construction of Padma Bridge. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is monitoring the progress of the work constantly.
The Padma Bridge survey was carried out under the financing of the Japanese agency JICA. Asian Development Bank (ADB) financed its design. An agreement had been signed with the World Bank, ADB, JICA and Islamic Development Bank for the implementation of the main project. However, the donors moved away on grounds of corruption and thus complications arose. Then the government decided to implement the project at its own expense. The state-owned Agrani Bank gave a guarantee of arranging the fund necessary for the project.
The 6.15km long two-tier Padma Bridge will be constructed of concrete and steel. Vehicles will travel above and trains below. The contractors have been given four years to complete the river training work. The contractors have assured the government that the world will be finished before schedule if there is no serious technical problem or political unrest.
China Major Bridge Engineering Construction Company was appointed in June for the construction of the main bridge. The Chinese company has arrived at the site with its heavy equipment. South Korea’s Korean Expressway and Bangladesh Army are supervising the work.
The government is placing importance on this project for two reasons. Firstly, relations between the government and the donors, including the World Bank, soured over the financing of the project. The government has taken this up as a challenge. The government can use this to show its capability to the international community. Secondly, in 2008 Awami League’s election manifesto had pledged to construct this bridge. The bridge will give the government extra political mileage among the people of the south and southwest regions during the next election.