Padma Bridge handed over to the govt
The long-cherished Padma Bridge is now ready to be inaugurated as the contractor formally handed over the bridge to the project authorities.
China Major Bridge Engineering Co Ltd, the contractor for the main bridge, handed over the bridge to Project Director Shafiqul Islam on Wednesday.
"We formally received the bridge for official or commercial use," Shafiqul Islam told The Daily Star yesterday. "The bridge is now fully ready for opening."
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the country's longest bridge tomorrow morning.
The 6.5-kilometre road and rail bridge, directly connecting the capital with the southwestern districts, will be opened to public at 6:00am the following day.
As per the programme schedule, Hasina will take part in a civil rally at the Mawa end of the bridge at 10:00am tomorrow.
At the programme, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader will deliver a speech. This will be followed by the screening of a documentary on the bridge and the singing of the theme song, before Hasina delivers her speech.
The PM will then inaugurate the bridge by unveiling the plaquethere and will offer prayers. She will then travel across the bridge to the Zanjira end and unveil another plaque, before offering prayers.
The bridges division of the road transport and bridges ministry has taken all-out preparations to make the inauguration ceremony a success, while the ruling Awami League is organising the massive rally at the Zanjira end.
The Road Transport and Highways Division has decided not to collect tolls for 17 bridges and one ferry on the Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga Expressway and the country's southwestern portion on the day of the inauguration to facilitate the ceremony.
The division yesterday issued a circular saying tolls would not be collected from 14 major bridges and one ferry in the country's southwestern region on June 25.
The 14 bridges are: Khan Jahan Ali (Rupsha) Bridge, Daratana Bridge, Doarika-Shikarpur Bridge, Dapadapia Bridge, Gabkhan Bridge, Baleshwar Bridge, Patuakhali Bridge, Sheikh Russel Bridge, Sheikh Kamal Bridge, Sheikh Jamal Bridge, Payra (Lebukhali) Bridge, Mullahat Bridge, Ashmat Ali Khan Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge and Sheikh Lutfar Rahman Bridge.
The ferry to be free of toll is the Kalna Ferry.
On June 20, authorities announced that no toll would be collected from vehicles on three bridges on the Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga Expressway on June 25 to avoid traffic congestion at these points.
The three bridges are: Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge (Buriganga Bridge-1) at Postagola, Dhaleshwari Bridge, and Haji Shariatullah Bridge (Arial Kha Bridge) in Madaripur.
Meanwhile, Dhaka Metropolitan Police has issued directives centring the inauguration of the Padma Bridge for exit and entrance routes towards Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga Expressway.
Once in service, Padma Bridge will connect the capital with 21 southwestern districts by road and railway, providing relief to tens of thousands who often face hardships while travelling across the river, especially around major festivals.
The double-decker bridge -- a four-lane road on top and broad-gauge single rail track on the bottom -- is expected to boost the country's gross domestic product by 1.2 percent.
Although the project was approved in 2007, the physical work started only in November 2014. Project authorities were supposed to complete the work within four years but it was delayed due to complexities over design, the Covid-19 pandemic and some other reasons.
Dewan Mohammad Abdul Kader, executive engineer (main bridge) of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, said, "I am very happy to be part of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's dream project."