Roads on the two ends of the Padma Bridge that awaits inauguration on 25 June are getting the last-minute touch with hundreds of workers passing busy times, fine-tuning the road markings, fencing slow lanes and renovating footover bridges.
The Roads and Highways Department has joined hands with the Bangladesh Bridge Authority to beautify the 55-kilometre Mawa Expressway, along with the 12-kilometre bridge connecting roads.
In a visit to the area, from the capital's Hasnabad to Faridpur's Bhanga, on Friday, damaged carpetings of the roads were found being repaired at several spots. Workers were putting colour coats on the footover bridges and passenger sheds while last-minute construction work of some other overpasses was also noticed.
The authorities are preparing the service roads – those running parallel to the high-speed limited-access highway – to open to traffic. Road railings are being built in the middle of these.
Flower trees such as Radhachura, Togor and Sonalu, which were planted two or three years ago, now adorn the roadsides and road dividers along the highway from Dhaka to Bhanga upazila.
"Various parts of the [Mawa] highway, which has been under construction since 2016, have been damaged. In particular, the condition of the service roads have deteriorated in various places. With the inauguration of the Padma Bridge in mind, work is underway to remove all these defects and restore the beauty of the road," said Md Sobuj Uddin, project director of Mawa Expressway.
Some places are being painted, while road marking is being fixed in some other places, he told The Business Standard.
The main work has already been completed and the much-awaited bridge is ready for vehicles to cross the River Padma by the bridge. Only some minor work is now going on in full swing.
The Bridges Division prepares a report every month on the progress of the Padma Bridge project. According to the report, 99% of the work on the main bridge was completed by May. Some 30% of work on road markings for vehicles is yet to be done.
The Bridges Division has been making all-out efforts to celebrate the inauguration of the Padma Bridge in a befitting manner. Its 18 sub-committees are regularly holding meetings for the purpose. At the same time, the ruling Awami League is also making separate preparations.
According to sources at the Bridges Division, on 25 June Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will attend a gathering of eminent persons after inaugurating the bridge at the Mawa end. After that, she will cross the bridge by car and unveil another inaugural plaque on the Janjira end in Shariatpur. There will be arrangements to have the inauguration ceremony shown in all 64 districts of the country.
In addition to the prime minister, cabinet members, eminent politicians and diplomats from different countries based in Bangladesh will attend the inaugural functions, according to the Bridges Division.
The Padma Bridge project involving about Tk10,000 crore was approved with the aim of alleviating poverty by increasing the GDP by 1.2% by establishing direct connections among the capital and 19 districts in the southwest region of the country.
Later, the cost of the project was increased to Tk20,000 crore for including rail connectivity. Finally, the project cost reached Tk30,193 crore.
To further enhance the benefits of the bridge, the road from Jatrabari in Dhaka to Bhanga via the Padma Bridge was also constructed.
The bridge will be inaugurated on 25 June with the name "Padma Bridge", while the Jatrabari-Bhanga road has been named as "Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Highway".