Why I am proud of the Padma Bridge
Growing up as someone who had his roots on the other side of the Padma, I was often scared of going to my hometown because we had to cross the river on our way. The path across the Padma river was not only hazardous because of the swift currents, but was also lengthy and stressful as it required one to be crammed inside a tiny launch for over an hour just to cross the river.
This was the simple reason eight-year-old me hated going to my hometown: the long and arduous journey across the river. Every time I would complain about how I was scared to cross the river and how tiring the journey to our hometown was, my uncle and aunts would console me that one day there would be a bridge across the Padma river and then we could come across the river within less than 20 minutes.
Throughout the past, I have made my fair share of jokes and memes about the Padma Bridge; I have often criticised the corruption involved in the project. Now that the country has finally achieved the seemingly impossible feat of building the mighty Padma bridge, it is important that we finally acknowledge and appreciate what the bridge would mean for people in the southern and south-western parts of the country.
I have grown up hearing from my father about how my grandmother would have to wake up at five in the morning and walk about 12 miles from our village to the launch terminal when returning back to Dhaka, when she was young. In case she had missed the launch, she would have to walk back another 12 miles and return to our village because that was the only launch which was available during the entire day.
When I called my extended family living in my hometown at Shariatpur after the inauguration of the bridge, my uncle told me how he had seen two of his friends suffer because of the lack of a bridge across the river. One of them had seen their father dying inside an ambulance while waiting for a ferry, and his other friend had missed his flight abroad as there was no ferry to take him to the other side.
According to my uncle, now that the bridge has been built, no one has to face such miserable fates ever again. I was also told by one of our relatives who is suffering from skin issues about how he could easily come to Dhaka now for his doctor's appointment, and return back on the very same day.
While we all have heard about the macro level benefits of the bridge, such as how it will result in the growth of the country's economy and allow better trade and connectivity between the country's south and other regions, the bridge remains more than just an infrastructure to people like me. It is a symbol of hope and resilience for the people on the other side of the Padma river, after decades of struggles against the adversaries of not being connected with the rest of the country.
This bridge is not just a series of spans with driving lanes on the top, it represents the bundles of emotions coupled with the silent sacrifices of thousands of people!
Hrishik would like to dedicate this article to the average citizens of the country, especially those from the other side of the Padma river, as their funding and effort is what made the bridge possible. Reach out to him at email@example.com