It’s a victory like that of the 16th December, 1971, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Padma Bridge on Saturday. The festive mood beamed in the eyes and on the face of the whole nation as it was as though the historic great victory of the 1971, won after the nine- month- long war when the Pakistan occupation forces surrendered.
Under the supreme leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangalees had defeated the mighty Pakistan army. After just 50 years of country’s independence, his capable daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina conquered the mighty Padma by successfully building the Padma Multiple Bridge, the pride of the nation.
While addressing the grand opening ceremony of the country’s largest bridge –Padma Bridge-Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the Padma Bridge is not just a concrete infrastructure of bricks and mortar, cement, steel and iron, rather this is a symbol of nation’s pride, bravery, dignity and ability.
The Premier further said the bridge belongs to the people of Bangladesh. It involves our passion, our creativity, our courage, our endurance and our perseverance.
She said the much-cherished bridge stands on the turbulent Padma River overcoming many obstacles and breaking the series of conspiracy.
Today, I am happy, proud and overwhelmed along with millions of people of the country, said Sheikh Hasina.
Mentioning that the quality of the Padma Bridge construction work has not been compromised, she said this bridge is built with the latest technology and materials in the world maintaining full transparency. The whole construction process has been completed while maintaining the highest standards.
PM Hasina said that the foundation of the Padma Bridge is still the deepest in the world.
In this connection she said that the piles of this bridge have been laid up to a maximum depth of 122 meters while sophisticated technology has been used for protection from earthquake.
Because of some of the more special features, the construction of this bridge will be included in engineering textbooks around the world - that's for sure, she continued.
The PM said the engineers of Bangladesh have gained experience in implementing big projects from this huge work. In the future, we will be able to build such complex bridges or infrastructures ourselves, she further said.
Controlling the treacherous fast-flowing Padma River was as much a challenge as building the bridge, she said, adding that arrangements have been made to secure both the banks of the river by successfully tackling that challenge.
There is a well-managed and well-maintained service area on both sides of the bridge, she continued.
On this historic day of the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the prime minister asked the people to take a fresh vow to work for the welfare of the country and the people of the country.
She expressed her deepest gratitude to the people of the country as they were beside her all the time.
She said that she has no allegation against anyone who has hatched conspiracy against the Bridge and the country. Today, I hope that good sense will prevail upon those who hatched conspiracy and obstructed us over the construction of this bridge, their patriotism will be awakened and they would be more responsible regarding the people of Bangladesh, she added.
When she announced the Padma Bridge would be constructed with own finance, many criticised the government saying that it would not be possible with own funds and it’s just a dream that would never be materialised, she recalled.
Pointing to them, she said they have deficiency in their thought and self-confidence. “I think their confidence will also get enhanced from today that Bangladesh can do, she said.
Our economy has not got stagnant. It remains moving… Bangladesh's economy has not collapsed. rather it still is growing despite facing the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis caused by the Ukraine-Russia War, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the Padma Bridge has established direct communications between the capital Dhaka and 21 districts in the southern part of the country by road and rail.
She said the living standard of the people of this region will get improved. They will not remain neglected anymore, she added.
Though the bridge is expected to contribute 1.23 percent to GDP growth and reduce poverty by 0.84 percent per year, she believes its contribution would be higher than it, said Sheikh Hasina.
She said her government will build new economic zones and high-tech parks centering the bridge. As a result, domestic and foreign investment will be attracted and the pace of industrialization of the country will be accelerated. This bridge will play an important role in accelerating regional trade, she said.
About other mega projects, she said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under the Karnafuli River and the Metro Rail in Dhaka will be opened by the end of this year. Rooppur nuclear power plant will start electricity generation in the first half of 2023. Work on the Elevated Expressway in Dhaka is progressing fast. That too will be opened by 2023, she said, adding that the country’s economic progress will get further momentum.
The PM expressed her gratitude to all engineers, officials and employees involved in the construction of the Padma Bridge, local and foreign experts, consultants, contractors, engineers, technicians, workers and members of the army.
She remembered Prof. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury and prayed for the salvation of his departed soul. She also wished eternal peace for the souls of those, associated with the construction of the Padma Bridge, who died.
She also extended her thanks to the people living on both sides of the Padma Bridge whose lands and houses have been acquired.
To mark the historic moments, she also unveiled commemorative postage stamps, souvenir sheets, opening day cover and seals and a note of Tk 100 as part of the grand opening of the country’s biggest self-financed mega project.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader presided over the inaugural function attended by dignitaries including ministers, lawmakers and foreign diplomats.
At the outset of the event, a theme song and a documentary titled “Padma Bridge: Pride of Bangladesh” were presented.
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam delivered the introductory speech.