The Padma Bridge is a golden mine gifted by Sheikh Hasina, the honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh to her people. Golden mine in the sense that gold owning countries enjoy the mines, so also Bangladesh would continue to have that collection gradually increased from 3 crores to 25 crores a day or more for at least 120 years, the minimum life span of the bridge. Even an earthquake of 9 magnitude cannot destroy it. Golden mine in the sense that earning of this bridge is now able to bear all expenses of communication sector needed by the country for its perfect expenses. So, it is a gold mine since we do have no gold mines. It is Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Bangabandhu decided to give us one of the mines in a different shape.
There has been a collection of 11 crores in 3 days. The more the days elapse the bridge will be carrying more vehicles and other transports. It was estimated in 2010 that about 12,000 vehicles would cross the Padma Bridge. The traffic could be double, if the bridge is opened and the number of vehicles will increase by 7-8 percent every year and by 2050 over 67,000 vehicles will run.
But the plying of number of vehicles are showing upward trend and may cross as was predicted in the past. A total of 15,200 vehicles crossed Padma Bridge in the first eight hours of its opening for public on 26 June. 8,438 of these vehicles crossed the bridge from Mawa end and the rest of the 6,762 from the Zajira end. Bangladesh Bridge Authority said a total of Tk. 8.21 million has been collected as tolls from 6am to 2pm on that day (Sunday).
So, Bangladesh will receive benefits more than estimated by different studies of international organisations. World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in their studies estimated that Padma Bridge would contribute to increase overall GDP by 1.3 and regional GDP to 2.3 percent. But reality would be otherwise.
The national GDP would increase 4-5 percent and the construction cost of the bridge will be realized withing 15 years. Not only that the Padma Bridge would be an important catalyst in the implementation of the government’s Vision 2041 as the bridge will connect the country’s last geographical divide.
Padma Bridge will have
a political impact in
election of 2023
The bridge has established direct connectivity with the capital and would help expand trade and commerce, ease supply of raw materials and industrialization. Small and bid industries will be set up in the 21 districts. Agriculture will greatly improve and farmers will get better commodity prices. Production will increase. The government has proposed for establishing 17 special economic zones in the Southwestern region of the country and if those are implemented successfully there will be over 7.5 lakhs new jobs. Construction of Hi-Tech Parks and private industrial cities have also been planned to build in the region.
The bridge has improved the integrated communication structure of the country. The southern part of the country is now connected to Trans-Asian Highway (N-8) and Trans-Asian Railway. The bridge has already established international connectivity with India, Bhutan and Nepal.
Mongla and Payra seaports will be fully operational and the use of Chittagong Sea port will be increased substantially. Already India has shown keen interest to use Mongla and Chittagong ports and carry goods through the road connectivity.
There is a bright prospect of tourism industry to flourish. Nearly 50,000 tourists rushed to the Kuakata sea beach in the southern region during Eid-ul Adha holiday. Besides a substantial number of tourists went to Sundarbans to enjoy the holiday. Sixty-domed Mosque, Bangabandhu Mazar in Tungipara, old and new resorts at Mawa and Jazira will attract domestic and foreign tourists.
Padma Bridge will have a political impact in the upcoming election of 2023. The people of 21 districts of Southwestern region will get direct benefit. Moreover, it would benefit rest of the people of the country as the bridge would help boost country’s economy. Since the election of 2023 is nearing, the people will, no doubt, take into cognizance socio-economic impact of the Padma Bridge which has already started to contribute to help improve lot of the people of Southwestern region.
The Southwestern region has 74 out of 300 seats in parliament. It can be assumed that the people of these constituencies will choose no other symbols than boat. Moreover, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has built the bridge challenging the allegations of corruption of the World Bank.
Sheikh Hasina has proved that she is a proven honest person after the verdict pronounced by a Canadian court saying that the allegations of corruption brought by World Bank
The people have witnessed the integrity of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is one of the five honest persons in the world. So, the people of the country would make no mistake this time to decide their next Prime Minister.
They did not make mistakes in giving votes in 1954 and 1970. This time the people will give their verdict in favour of Sheikh Hasina and let her to run the country and help carry forward her vision 2041.
The writer is the President of Bangabandhu Parishad, Advisory Council member of Awami League, former Political Adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament and Columnist