Padma bridge now as long as Bangabandhu bridge
Another span of the Padma bridge was installed yesterday, ending a four-month stalemate over installing spans due to flood situation and strong currents in the Padma.
The 32nd span was installed to link the fourth and fifth pillars at Mawa end in Munshiganj around 9:30am, Dewan Md Abdul Kader, project manager (main bridge), told The Daily Star.
The authorities started the process of installing the span from Saturday morning, but they could not fix it that day due to strong currents in the river, he said, adding that they had to guarded the crane and span, which were taken near the pillars, overnight.
With the span installment, the 4.8km of the structure is now visible, which is the same of the length of Bangabandhu bridge, the longest bridge in the country as of now.
The project authorities are now planning to put in two more spans within this month and total nine spans within this year.
But the authorities had planned to install all spans -- 41-- within July this year, but it could not be possible due to the pandemic and strong currents in the river, project officials said.
When work of most development projects was suspended due to the pandemic, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project work continued.
But the work suffered due to lack of workers -- Chinese and local -- and poor supply of construction materials since January, said officials involved with the project.
The project authorities were able to bring back pace after Chinese nationals returned to work in May following the end of the two-month shutdown. But strong currents in the Padma started causing problems, they said.
No span could be installed after June 10, when the 31st span was put in, due to strong currents, officials said.
Besides, at least 192 railway stingers and 220 roadway decks, supposed to be used for construction of the bridge, went into the Padma on July 31 due to erosion at a yard.
Although the erosion could not affect the bridge, which was nearly 2km off the bridge site, it might cause some delay as the stingers would have to be imported from Luxembourg, they added.
The current deadline of the fast-track project is June 2021. However, top government officials already said they have to extend the deadline.
"If we can complete installation of all spans within this December, we are hopeful about completing the bridge within December 2021," a project official told this correspondent, wishing not to be named.
Once in service, the 6.15km-long bridge will connect the capital with 21 southwestern districts. It is expected to boost the country's gross domestic product by 1.2 percent.