Terming her government’s decision to build the Padma Bridge with the country’s own fund a challenge, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh wants to show the world by implementing this dream project that it has acquired the capacity to implement any mega project.
“The heroic Bangalee nation who had earned Independence through an armed struggle raised its head high today…they now want assistance from their development partners, not alms,” she said.
She came up with the remarks while addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project and River Training work at Janzira.
The premier first opened the river training work at Naodoba in Janzira by unveiling a plaque and later inaugurated the groundbreaking of the main bridge at Mawa point by unveiling another plaque.
Terming the day a “Red Letter Day” for the people of the country and a day of happiness, especially for those of southern Bangladesh, Hasina said her government remained firm to build the dream bridge ignoring all propaganda.
Referring to the World Bank's allegation of corruption in implementing the project, she said, "I asked them: Where was the corruption? Give me the proof as there had been no fund release till then. If there is no fund release how come corruption can take place!"
"I also wrote them a letter, but I didn’t get any reply from them till now. They couldn’t prove there was corruption. The Canadian court asked the World Bank to submit the documents about the corruption allegation, but they couldn’t do that because there is nothing to inform." she added.
Bangladesh government is funding the Tk 28,793 crore project. The government decided to build the bridge with its own funds after the donors, including the World Bank, suspended their pledged assistance over allegations of corruption.
The premier alleged that the issue was different. “One world famous personality who was sitting in a post of managing director of a bank for 11 years violating the rules, started using his connections against Bangladesh to materialise his personal vendetta,” she said.
Hasina said the government established 99 Composite Brigade comprising two Infantry Battalions and an Engineer Construction Battalion for ensuring security and supervision of the bridge project.
The government is planning to set up modern townships at Mawa and Janzira points in addition to building international standard hotels and resorts to attract tourists.
About the possible positive impact of the bridge on the national economy, Sheikh Hasina said the economy of southern Bangladesh will get a boost once the construction of the Padma Bridge is completed.
The premier assured the people of the areas that the government would remain beside them as they are helping the government build the bridge providing their land and ancestral homes.
Sheikh Hasina also urged the people of the country to come forward and work together for the development of the nation staying above all differences and opinions and build Bangladesh as “Sonar Bangla” as dreamt by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Among others, Road, Transport and Bridge Division Minister Obaidul Quader and local lawmaker BM Mozammel Haque spoke on the occasion.
On her way to Mawa from Janzira by a coastguard vessel, the premier witnessed the piling work at No. 7 pillar in the middle of the Padma River.