The Padma Bridge will not only connect two sides of the mighty Padma River it will also boost the country's economy with fresh industries and jobs, according to industrialists and locals.
Some last-minute tasks are nearing completion to ready the much-awaited bridge for its formal flag-off on 25 June.
The 6.15-km long bridge is expected to create huge economic opportunities as numerous public and private industries are being set up in the vast areas around the bridge.
The construction of Sheikh Hasina Nakshipalli, apparel factories, cold storage, gas stations, and industrial parks are going on in full swing with promises of new jobs for the unemployed. Expanding local business and trade, the bridge is expected to significantly boost the national economy.
The south-eastern districts of the country were isolated for a long time because of the Padma River and no industrial establishments were formed due to a lack of communication.
Industry owners had little to no interest in building businesses in these districts because the Padma River had to be crossed by ferry. The ferry crossing is a nightmare for business communication as it involves a lot of suffering including being stranded at the ferry ghat for days, loss of goods, and cancellation of shipments.
But industrialists started to rethink their plans once the progress of the Padma Bridge construction became visible. Several industry owners started buying land for the construction of factories in the area. After developing the land, they have now begun construction work of infrastructure.
Sheikh Hasina Nakshipalli is being developed on 120 acres of land in the Naodoba and Kutubpur areas of Shibchar upazila at the Jajira end of Shariatpur. In the first phase, the construction of boundary wall and land development work is nearing completion at Tk307.45 crore. The infrastructure building will start in the second phase.
Bangladesh Handloom Board is implementing the handloom village project intending to create employment for weavers, improve product quality, as well as boost the supply of textiles in the international market. Aside from building loom sheds, schools, mosques, and playgrounds will also be constructed under this project.
Visiting the project area On Sunday, labourers and engineers were seen working in full force on both sides of the approach road of the Shariatpur-Naodoba Padma Bridge. The vast land was being levelled by filling sand with excavators, a long boundary wall is being constructed, and the construction of a building is progressing at a rapid pace.
Chinmoy Sardar, project manager of Khokan Construction and Engineering Limited, said, "The sand filling work at Sheikh Hasina Nakshipalli would be completed by June. The work of the border wall is almost 50% complete. Now we are starting construction work of main structures."
"Some 2,000 weavers would be rehabilitated here in the first phase. There are plans to increase the number of weavers step by step. Sheds will be built for the weavers' accommodation and markets," he added.
Entrepreneurs also have plans to make sauces from Shariatpur tomatoes, process garlic into powder packets, and process the honey produced from black cumin in the region and export them abroad.
Mubarak Ali Sikder, chairman of Mastrade International Garments Ltd, said thanks to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for providing immense economic opportunities to the people of South Bengal through the Padma Bridge.
"I am creating an industrial park by taking advantage of the Padma Bridge. For that I have started working with 40 bighas of land in the first phase," he said.
Badal Jamaddar of the Naodoba area said, "The Padma Bridge will draw a huge amount of vehicles from far and near. That is why I bought land to build a gas station with LPG and CNG gas support. Documents have been submitted for the license and the construction work will start after getting permission."
Ayesha Begum, a resident of Naria upazila, said, "We earn a living by working. Girls and boys from our area go far and wide to work in garments. Now, garments are coming near our home. We don't have to go far for work."