Padma Bridge has proven to the world that Bangladesh can move forward on its own, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"The Padma Bridge has been completed. Bangladesh's economy has not collapsed. The country is moving forward at a breakneck pace. We have proved to the world, 'We can too'," the premier said during her speech at the inauguration ceremony of Padma Bridge on Saturday (25 June).
"Padma Bridge is therefore not only a bridge to prove one's self-esteem and ability of the Bengalis, but also revenge to insult that was done to the entire nation. The people of Bangladesh are the source of my courage. I salute them," she said.
The much-awaited Padma Bridge inauguration ceremony has begun at Mawa point in Munshiganj after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived at the inauguration spot at Kathalbari around 9.55am.
Earlier, a helicopter carrying the premier left Dhaka's Tejgaon Airport for Mawa at around 9:30am on Saturday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will formally open the Padma Bridge, which is likely to boost GDP by 1.2 to 2%, by unveiling the inaugural plaque at the Mawa point this morning at 11am.
After unveiling the inaugural plaque at the Mawa point, a public rally will take place led by the premier. A total of 13 buses - with 40 seats each – will follow PM Sheikh Hasina crossing the bridge.
The first two buses will carry the ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers attending the ceremony. MPs, diplomates, secretaries and political leaders will be in the following buses.
Marking the grand opening of the bridge, a festive mood is prevailing in the country, particularly in the southern and southwestern regions which will be directly facilitated through the major road connectivity.
As per the premier's programme schedule, she will also unveil commemorative postage stamps, souvenir sheets, opening day cover and seals at 11am at Mawa point to mark the grand opening of the country's biggest self-financed mega project which is likely to boost GDP by 1.2-2 %.
She will begin her journey for Jajira point in Shariatpur from Mawa point by road crossing the bridge at 11:23am.
The premier will reach Jajira point at 11:45am and unveil the inaugural plaque of the bridge and mural-2. She will also join a special prayer there.
Sheikh Hasina, also Awami League president, will join a public rally of the party marking the opening of the bridge at Kathalbari under Shibchar upazila in Madaripur district at 12pm.
The premier will start for Dhaka from Jajira point by helicopter at 5:30pm.
Padma Bridge became visible with the installation of the first span on 37th and 38th number pillars on 30 September, 2017.
Later, all 41 spans were installed on 42 pillars one after another. The entire structure of the multi-purpose 6.15km Padma Bridge became visible with the installation of its last 41st span on 10 December, 2020.
According to project details, the construction of the main bridge was carried out by China Major Bridge Engineering Company (MBEC), a Chinese contractor Company, and the river treatment was done by Sino Hydro Corporation of China.
The first span of the Padma Bridge was installed at the Janjira point of Shariatpur on 7 October, 2017.
The construction works began in December, 2015 as the premier inaugurated the river training work and main construction works of Padma Multipurpose Bridge project at Jajira point in Shariatpur district on 12 December in 2015.
After the Awami League formed the government in 1996, she visited Japan in 1997. She proposed building bridges over the rivers Padma and Rupsha. The Japanese government agreed to construct bridges over the two rivers. As river Padma is a mighty river having strong current, Japan began Padma River surveying and they began construction works on river Rupsha at her request.
In 2001, Japan submitted a survey report to Bangladesh on the construction of a bridge on the River Padma. In the Japanese survey, Mawa point of Munshiganj was selected as the site for bridge's construction.
On the basis of the survey, the premier formally laid the foundation stone of Padma Bridge at Mawa in Munshiganj on 4 July in 2001.
But Awami League could not come to power in 2001 elections. After assuming power, the BNP-Jamaat alliance government stopped the bridge construction programme at Mawa point and asked the Japan government to conduct survey again for Padma Bridge at Aricha point in Manikganj.
After surveying for a second time, Japan submitted another report specifying Mawa point as the site for Padma Bridge construction.
After assuming power in 2009 again, the Awami League government included Padma Bridge construction in the list of highest priority.
On the 22nd day of assuming office, New Zeeland-based consultant firm Monsel Eicom was appointed to prepare the complete design of Padma Bridge.
At the outset, rail facility was not in the bridge project. As per the order of the premier, the final design of the bridge was prepared keeping railways facilities included.
The design was finalized by 2010. In January next year, DPP was revised. Due to revision, the project cost stood at Tk205.07 billion (20,507 crore). There were several reasons behind the increase of cost.
At the beginning, the length of main bridge was 5.5km which was later increased to 6.15km.
In the first DPP, the design was made keeping space for vessel movement beneath three of 41 spans of the bridge. Later, the DPP was revised where scopes for vessel movement beneath 37 spans were added.
Rail connectivity having capacity of bearing much weight was added in the revised DPP. Instead of concrete, ispat or steel infrastructure was added.
Much depth was also adopted for the pilling work of the bridge construction. Rehabilitation cost of the people who faced losses (due to land acquisition) also increased.
In 2016, when the cost was increased, contractors were appointed for all works including the construction of the main bridge and river treatment. Meanwhile, Bangladesh's currency depreciated by Tk9 against US dollar. Works of river treatment for 1.3km was added afresh.
The cost which was estimated for appointing contractors in main bridge construction, river treatment and approach roads construction increased by around Tk80 billion (8,000 crore).
Besides, costs of land acquisition increased, shifting of ferry ghat required costing and Army was deployed to ensure security.
The government has already announced the rates for using the Padma Multipurpose Bridge.
On 17 May last, the Bridges Division under Road Transport and Bridges Ministry issued a gazette notification in this regard.
According to the gazette notification, a motorcycle will have to pay Tk100 while a car and a jeep Tk750 to cross the 6.15km long bridge.
As per the toll chart, Tk1,200 has been fixed for a pickup, Tk1,300 for a microbus, Tk1,400 for a small bus (31-seat), Tk2,000 for a medium-size bus (over 32-seat) and Tk2,400 for a large bus (three-axel).
Besides, Tk1,600 has been fixed for a small truck (up to five tons), Tk2,100 for a medium truck (5-8 tons) and Taka 2,800 for a truck weighing 8-11 tons, Tk5,500 for a truck (up to Three-axel), Tk6,000 for a trailer (four-axel).
The notification also said that Tk1,000 will be added to Tk6,000 for each axel of the trailer when it will be over four-axel trailer.
The government on Wednesday issued a press release saying ferries on Shimulia-Majhirkandi and Kathalbari routes will remain closed from 12pm to 6pm on 25 June marking the Padma Bridge opening.
Besides, Mayor Hanif Flyover, Postogola Bridge and N-8, a National Highway between the capital Dhaka and the town of Patuakhali, will also remain closed during the period.
However, the people been have asked to use Babu Bazar Bridge and its adjacent roads for movement.