Prof Jamilur Reza tells Banglanews
The flow of water, soil in the river bed and the movement of fishes were highly considered in constructing Padma Bridge. This is a big challenge and we are moving forward with satisfactory progresses.
Professor Dr Jamilur Reza Choudhury said while he was talking about the ongoing project of construction of much awaited Padma Bridge over the mighty river Padma to connect its Mawa and Zajira points.
Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury, former advisor to the Caretaker Government and presently the Vice Chancellor of University of Asia Pacific, was sharing his views with Banglanews24.com at his campus office in Dhanmondi.
In my view the major challenges of construction are foundation of main bridge and the river training works, he said.
Professor Jamilur, chief consultant of the bridge project, said, We must remember that river Padma, which is carrying the combined flow of Ganges and Brahmaputra to the Bay of Bengal, is the second highest (next to Amazon) flow of water in the world.
The estimated life of the bridge is one hundred years, although in reality we expect the bridge to last much longer. The peak flood flow under the bridge has been estimated to be 140 thousand cubic meter per second. This leads to technical problem in foundation of the bridge, he said.
We are highly cautious to allow the water pass unimpeded under the bridge, and from that point of view the total length of the bridge has been determined 6.15km. The distance form a pillar to another is kept 150 miters, said Jamilur Reza.
We know that the soil of this river belt is very soft. And the load coming from the weight of the bridge and the traffic of road and rails which will be moving over the bridge, whole has to be transferred to the foundation. The problem with soft soil is that it is not only weak in supporting load but also the whole bed can get eroded, he said.
We have to support the loads by ignoring soil, which may be in position now, because in future it may disappear. And not only the load, I mention, in addition earthquake load may come, so considering all this factors the bottom depth foundation has been determined 118 meter, said Dr. Jamilur Reza, widely known as technologist-educationist and a top engineer in the country.
Driving the still piles up to that depth is extremely difficult, he said.
It appears that the only one company in the world which has the capability of driving this piles. A Germany company is involved in driving the piles. And now the company is in the process of making heaviest hammer. So this is also one of the major challenges. A total of 250 piles have to be driven, Prof Jamilur added.
Second challenge, he mentioned, is how to keep the river flowing under the bridge. There is a risk that if protection measures are not taken, we may have the bridge, but the river may flow in other direction. So the challenge is there to train the river by constructing structures what is known as guidebandh. These guidebandhs have to be constructed up to the depth of 30 meters.
The whole project is dived into five packages, told Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury. Largest of which is construction of main bridge costing around 1.5 billion dollars, and the second one is river training works costing nearly 1 billion dollar.
The three relatively smaller construction contract packages are approach road in Mawa side and approach road and bridges in Zazira side. Five bridges will be constructed on this side, which are also quite long.
Third is Service area, which involves construction of office and residential buildings for the bridge authority and consultants.
Implementation of all the packages have already been started, said Jamilur Reza. Contractors for the main bridge and river training work have started mobilizing their equipments. Collecting some more soil data and fabrication of test piles are also underway.
The three smaller packages which have been awarded to Bangladeshi contactors are also going on and progress is quite satisfactory.
We must remember that this river is very important form fishery point of view as she is providing major portion of Hilsha fish supply in Bangladesh, Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury said.
So measures are taken to ensure that very little disruption takes place in the migratory parts of Hilsha fishes. The contractor would not be allowed to carry out any heavy construction work which may disturb the flow of hilsha fishes, he said.
Considering all the factors I am quite happy, satisfactory progress has been made in implementation of this mega project.
I am very optimistic that the bridge will be completed by next four years and could be open to traffic fulfilling long dreams of millions of the people of this country.
However the bright side is that for the first time Bangladesh government is going to implement such a challenging project. Successful completion would not only raise the image of the country but also create confidence among professionals that they can take up any project.