06/27/2022, 15.38
BANGLADESH
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurates Padma Bridge near Dhaka

by Sumon Corraya

Construction took almost seven years with 14,000 workers. The government fully financed the project, carried out by Chinese firms. Thanks to the infrastructure, the GDP of the southern regions is expected to increase by more than 2 per cent.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally opened the Padma Bridge last Saturday morning by unveiling the inaugural plaque in Mawa, on the north bank.

To mark the occasion, the ruling Awami League held a rally in Kathalbari (Madaripur district), where the ferry terminal is located, drawing about a million people.

"I salute the people of Bangladesh,” Prime Minister Hasina said expressing her gratitude to all those who participated in the construction of the bridge.

“We faced many conspiracies to build this bridge, but we have overcome all barriers thanks to the support of our people,” she added.

The World Bank had filed a lawsuit, alleging corruption, but a Canadian court ruled the allegations were baseless, she explained.

Subsequently, the Government of Bangladesh decided not to accept a loan from the World Bank seeking US$ 3.6 billion of financing from other sources.

The 6.15 km long bridge was built by the China Major Bridge Engineering Company, while river training was conducted by the Sinohydro Corporation of China.

After the World Bank pulled out, some Malaysian investors showed interest in the project, but did not believe it was possible to build such a long bridge over a turbulent river.

It took almost seven years and 14,000 local and foreign workers from 20 countries to complete the work.

It is estimated that the Padma Bridge will increase Bangladesh's gross domestic product by 1.23 per cent, by 2.3 per cent for the southern regions alone.

At least 28 million people will benefit directly from the construction, but 40 million people will be able to enjoy a road connection with the country's capital.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Alfred Ranjit Mondol, principal at St Joseph's High School in the Diocese of Khulna, southern Bangladesh, said that the bridge will improve the lot of millions of people.

“Farmers could sell their crops at a better price, while cancer patients will be able to reach the capital Dhaka in less time and get better treatment,” he explained.

What is more, “Many factories can be set up in our area and employment will be created”; thus, “the southern part of the country will be able to develop economically," he added.

Before, to go to Dhaka from Khulna took eight to ten hours crossing the Padma River by ferry; now, with the bridge, it will take only four hours.

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