Out of all the major mega projects going on in Bangladesh, the establishment of Padma Bridge is something everyone is looking forward to. Comprising 41 spans and 42 pillars, this 6.15 km long bridge is going to be the largest infrastructural project ever constructed by our government. Built with the aim of bridging the gap between the country and its south-western zone, Padma Bridge is surely going to pave the way and open numerous doors of opportunities in Bangladesh. In spite of the hurdles faced initially, the Bangladesh government managed to continue the progression at full throttle. In December 2020, around 90% of this multipurpose bridge work has reached the stage of completion and is expected to be officially open to traffic by June 2022. Once inaugurated, Bangladesh will be all set for witnessing tremendous growth and development in the 21 southern districts. Let’s take a look at the first in the series of two on some of the major domains where the impact of Padma Bridge will play out.
Need for Padma Bridge
The southern region of Bangladesh is home to 30 million people, who have been facing tremendous problems in terms of commuting to other parts of the country. The overall infrastructure scenario has been in dire condition for ages and millions of people have been eagerly waiting for the establishment of Padma Bridge to put an end to the difficulties. Thus considering the condition of the southern districts and overall positive impact of Padma Bridge, the construction work finally started off in December 2015.
Since 2015 the construction work has been going on and has achieved a huge milestone by installing the last span of the bridge in December 2020. Even though the entire work was supposed to get completed within a stipulated time, the lack of connectivity and slow infrastructural development along with financing difficulties slowed down the construction process over the years. Nonetheless, defying all the hurdles, Padma Bridge construction has been completed to a great extent and has a high possibility of opening by June 2022.
All in all, there are several untapped opportunities in the social and economic front in the Southwestern part of the country, which will change the fate of the whole nation upon the successful establishment of Padma Bridge.
Padma Bridge is going to mark the beginning of a new phase since it will share great connectivity both within the local and international routes. The 6.15 km long and 18.10 wide bridge will have a four-lane highway and a single railway line, which will help in linking areas like Maowa, Munshiganj to Janjira, and Shariatpur. Another major impact of Padma Bridge is the convenient transport communication which it will share with expressways and railway lines with Dhaka from Mongla to Payra port. As a result of this, these ports will help in direct connectivity to Dhaka and Chattogram Port. Moreover, Padma Bridge falls on the Asian Highway Route-1 and Trans-Asian Railway Route which will link Bangladesh to peripheral countries like India, Nepal, and Bhutan and create a holistic trade network.
Lastly, another impact of Padma Bridge on the communication front will be the time reduced in traveling from the south-west region to the capital city. For ages people over there have been crossing the river through ferries and boats, wasting almost 12 to 13 hours of a day to get somewhere. Even worse, ride cancellations were a common thing because of adverse weather conditions, like flood or fog. There were several issues which made the journey extremely hectic. However, once the Padma bridge opens, no one will have to travel with hiatus. The duration of traveling from Dhaka to areas in the southwest region will reduce to 3 hours per trip approximately. Based on a AUST study, it has been figured that around 30 million people residing on 25% of the southern parts of the country will get access to multimodal transport facilities.
The southwestern districts have all the possibilities to evolve as the country’s biggest economic zone. This automatically implies the sheer number of new job opportunities which will be created in the particular areas. Seven special economic zones have already been planned for several regions. Four are going to be in Khulna and Bagerhat, two in Barisal and one in Bhola consisting around 3000 acres. All these special economic zones will bring major foreign and domestic investment in the country. Neighboring countries, especially India will be more likely to encourage further investments in Bangladesh. All in all, the southwestern districts will witness an ‘industrial revolution’ with the initiation of Padma Bridge.
One impact of Padma Bridge is market integration among the neighboring countries. Plenty of business opportunities will emerge due to being connected to sian Highway-1. Asian Highway-2, Asian Highway-41 and Trans Asian Railway-1 and 2. Furthermore, transporting goods to Nepal, Bhutan and to the northeast side of India will be convenient through the Mongla and Payra seaports.
Due to transportation barriers, both urbanization and major industrialization could not flourish in the region up until now. However, as soon as the Padma Bridge comes into play, along with ensuring basic electricity connections and better supply and distribution channels, various types of small and medium sized businesses, export-oriented manufacturing will develop in the region. Areas like Patuakhali and Khulna have presence of major ports and can even become a hub of urbanization. Additionally gas reserves in Bhola can be resourceful to stimulate industrial growth.
Padma Bridge is a dream, the people of Bangladesh have been weaving for almost two decades. It is more than just a bridge, it is a huge stride in the right direction which Bangladesh has been planning to reach over the last few years. So far, we have come up with these positive impacts of Padma Bridge in this first series of the article. If you have any other points in mind, share your valuable thoughts with us in the comment section below.