Padma Bridge: The Pride of Bangladesh

The landmark Padma Bridge is a symbol of Bangladesh’s pride, capability, and dignity, said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She inaugurated the country’s longest bridge entirely constructed with domestic funding on Saturday, June 25, 2022.

The 6.15-kilometer-long, four-lane road-rail bridge spans the Padma river, connecting southwestern Bangladesh to the capital and the rest of the country.

The construction of the multipurpose road-rail bridge, which was fully funded by the government of Bangladesh, cost USD 3.6 billion.

The inauguration of the Padma bridge is of great significance because the structure was constructed entirely with domestic funding, defying the skepticism of some financial analysts who doubted that Bangladesh, which will only graduate from the UN’s Least Developed Countries (LDC) list in 2026, would be able to mobilize the necessary funds using domestic resources.

Hasina expressed gratitude to those who contributed to the Padma bridge’s construction. “I have no complaints against anyone, but I believe those who opposed the Padma Bridge construction plan and referred to it as a “pipe dream” lack self-assurance. “I hope that this bridge will inspire their confidence,” said the prime minister.

This bridge is comprised of more than bricks, cement, iron, and concrete… This bridge is a symbol of our capability, our strength, and our pride. “This bridge belongs to the Bangladeshi people,” she said.

“The bridge belongs to the Bangladeshi people. It encompasses our fervor, imagination, bravery, endurance, and tenacity,” she said. She stated that the cherished bridge stands on the turbulent Padma River, overcoming numerous obstacles and dismantling the conspiracy web.

Hasina stated, “Today, I am happy, proud, and overjoyed alongside millions of my countrymen.” The Padma Bridge project involved both engineering marvels and technological obstacles. It was constructed with state-of-the-art machinery and technological know-how, and became a marvel for Bangladesh.

The Padma Bridge

The bridge is 10,642 kilometers long, has 41 spans connected to 42 pillars, and is the 122nd longest bridge in the world. The length of the railway viaduct is 0.532 kilometers, while the length of the main bridge is 6.15 kilometers. It is the longest bridge in Bangladesh and will significantly reduce the distance and travel time between Dhaka and the Mongla port.

It will play a significant role in regional and global trade. The distance between each pillar of the bridge is 150 meters, with the deepest piling in the world measuring 128 meters. 2015 marked the beginning of construction on the 6.15-kilometer-long bridge, which will be completed in December 2021.

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge connects 19 districts of the southwestern region of Bangladesh, which is home to 30 million people, to Dhaka and other parts of the country. The construction of the Bridge at a cost of Taka 30,193.6 crore ($3.6 billion) was fully financed by the Government of Bangladesh. According to the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the bridge is not part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and no bilateral or multilateral foreign funding has been used to complete this multipurpose project.

Obstacles hindering the megaproject

Initially, it was anticipated that the project would be funded by a consortium led by the World Bank.

It canceled the proposed credit in 2012, citing “credible evidence” of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi government officials. Bangladesh has consistently denied these allegations and has chosen not to seek funding from the international financial institution.

Padma Bridge history

Today’s opening of the bridge is the realization of a 21-year-old dream that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina shared with the nation’s citizens. Throughout its decades-long journey, the bridge has encountered numerous obstacles; perhaps this is why it is regarded as a magnificent example of effective leadership. Sheikh Hasina, then and now Prime Minister, laid the foundation stone for the multipurpose project on July 4, 2001 in Mawa, Munshiganj district, during the final days of her previous tenure. After regaining power in 2009, Sheikh Hasina and her dream project suffered a major setback when the World Bank canceled a $1.2 billion loan, citing evidence of corruption in the project.

Although a Canadian court later dismissed the allegation, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) also withdrew from the project at a time when Hasina’s power grip was weak. Hasina did not abandon her dream project, and seven years later, she re-funded the construction of the bridge with national revenue, bringing her dream to fruition as she inaugurates the bridge today. The successful completion of the project after the World Bank decided to abandon it has provided the nation with invaluable experience in conceiving, financing, and executing megaprojects.

It has set a remarkable example of independence for the rest of the world. “It is a megaproject of Bangladesh that is entirely funded by the government. With the construction of the Padma bridge, the Bangladeshi government has set an example for other nations in South Asia by constructing the bridge with its own funds, which will undoubtedly encourage other nations to develop good regional connectivity by undertaking additional projects of this nature,” according to Bangladesh PMO, media report.

Padma Bridge to boost economy and ties with other countries

The Padma Bridge will not only improve inter-Bangladesh connectivity, but it will also provide the necessary logistics and business momentum to connect India and Bangladesh’s common regions. This bridge will play an important role in enhancing bilateral and sub-regional connectivity between India and Bangladesh.

Mercy Tembon, country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan at the World Bank, has said that the Padma Bridge will boost inclusive economic growth and reduce poverty in Bangladesh.

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