We can now achieve even bigger feats
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the success in constructing the Padma Bridge has instilled self-confidence in the people that the country can implement even larger projects in future.
Participating in the general discussion on a motion placed in parliament to greet and thank her for the construction of the 6.15-km bridge, she said, "One single decision for the construction of Padma Bridge with our own fund brightened the country's image… The whole world has started to show respect towards Bangladesh."
The motion was adopted unanimously by a voice vote following a discussion that went on for over six hours.
Thirty-eight MPs from the treasury and opposition bench took part in the discussion.
Chief Whip Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury brought the motion in the House under Section 147 of the Rules of Procedure.
During the nearly 30-minute speech, the premier said, "The people of our country have gained knowledge on technology. In future we'll be able to do more improved [bigger] tasks," she added.
Lambasting the role of Dr Muhammad Yunus in cancellation of the World Bank's funding for the Padma Bridge project, the PM asked how an individual can harm the country just for his lust for the post of a managing director of a bank.
She also alleged that an editor (of a newspaper) was also involved closely in the matter.
"Dr Yunus and that editor emailed the World Bank time and again so that the funding is stopped ... Hillary Clinton was engaged in the matter.
"They thought we would surrender to them. But I am the daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I didn't and will not bow down to injustice."
The PM said she, her government and her family members and cabinet members faced tremendous pressure, humiliation and false cases regarding the baseless corruption allegation that ultimately proved to be false at a Canadian court.
Explaining the rise of project cost in comparison with the design made by the caretaker government in 2007, Sheikh Hasina said there were no rail lines, electricity and gas connections in that design.
Besides, the cost for land acquisition in the new design went up three times and the amount of acquired land was increased several times.
She also mentioned strong river training and construction of a bridge with navigation clearance and a rise of length of the main bridge as the reasons behind the higher project costs.
In his motion, Chief Whip Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury said, "Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, should be cordially congratulated and thanked on behalf of the nation through special discussion in parliament for her courageous and firm leadership, unconditional love for the people and providing the nation the gift of Padma Bridge.
"The 6.15-km bridge with a four-lane highway and railway is a reality today. It is a symbol of pride, self-confidence, and self-respect for Bengalees."
MPs of the ruling AL and the main opposition Jatiya Party lauded Sheikh Hasina and her government.
However, BNP MP Rumeen Farhana criticised the government, saying a lot of money was looted by inflating the construction costs and it set a "textbook example of corruption".
She said the cost of constructing each kilometre of any bridge in India, China and Malaysia is Tk 700-800 crore. But in Bangladesh, constructing each kilometre costs Tk 1,400 to Tk 1,500 crore.
Rumeen said each kilometre of the Padma bridge should not have cost over Tk 1,400 crore. But in reality, the cost was Tk 5,000 crore.
The BNP MP also said it was the government's failure to take loans on lucrative terms for such a large project like the Padma Bridge.
AL MP Tofail Ahmed said there were many conspiracies over the Padma Bridge.
Obaidul Quader said, "Through the construction of the bridge, we have taken revenge against the World Bank for humiliating us and labelling us as thieves."
AL MP Matia Chowdhury called upon the WB to apologise before attending the inaugural programme of the bridge.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal MP Hasanul Haq Inu said the Padma Bridge is not just a bridge, it is a wonder of the engineering world.
Jatiya Party MPs Anisul Islam Mahmud, Kazi Feroz Rashid, Pir Fazlur Rahman and Rowshan Ara Mannan among others praised Hasina for her bold leadership in giving a fitting reply to the WB.