The construction work of Padma Multipurpose Bridge seems to be going on at a good pace.
About 16 percent of the infrastructure work of the project, including approach roads, rehabilitation and development of the project area, is complete, according to ministry data.
During a recent visit to the site, large barges were seen ready to lift heavy construction equipment. Earth-moving equipment were being used for road construction. Army personnel were seen busy giving directives to workers and monitoring approach road work.
A few kilometres away, houses were being built for the construction yard workers and the officers. Around 300 Chinese and a few hundred local workers were working there.
Sand, stones and bricks have been piled up, trucks were constantly arriving with loads of bricks, sand, cement, stones and soil.
Soil testing was being carried out for the main bridge. The next step would be to conduct piling tests and after that the construction work of the bridge would begin.
To speed up the construction work of the main bridge, 1,000 Chinese engineers would reach the site soon.
As of December 30, 2014, at least 29 percent of the Jajira Approach Road and 22 percent of the Mawa Approach Road had been done. The pace would accelerate significantly once the work of the main bridge and river training begins, Project Director Shafiqul Islam said.
A total of 2,700 plots of land have been prepared for the rehabilitation of the people who had to be moved for the bridge. At least 1,100 of those had been handed over until December.
The 6.15km-long two-tier Padma Bridge with the provision for vehicles running above and trains below would be built with concrete and steel. The pillars of the bridge would go the deepest of any bridge in the world.
The pillars would be 120 metres long and 2,500-tonne pile-drivers would hammer them in, according to the project office.
The concrete pillars were being built in China, Singapore and Germany. The pillars would be brought in in February to do a test piling. After the test, the work on the bridge would start.
A total of 300 pillars will be used.
Chinese company Sinohydro Corporation Ltd has shipped three dredgers on December 18 from China that would be used for the river training work.
The river training is expected to be completed in four years.
“Padma Bridge is not a dream but a reality now. We will be able to complete the bridge by 2018 Inshallah,” Obaidul Quader, minister for road transport and bridges ministry, told The Daily Star.
The government signed a deal with China Major Bridge Engineering Construction Company Ltd in June for the construction of the bridge. South Korea's Korean Expressway and Bangladesh Army are the construction supervision consultants.
The Awami League in its election manifesto in 2008 pledged to construct this bridge.
The Padma Bridge project hit a roadblock in 2012 when the World Bank, a key financier of the project, cancelled its $1.2 billion credit upon allegations of corruption. Subsequently, the government in early 2013 decided to implement the project with its own resources.