In the first eight hours of the opening of the Padma Bridge to traffic, Tk 82.19 lakh from 6am to 2pm was collected as toll, the bridge authority sources said. During the time, 15,200 vehicles crossed the bridge.
On the first day, people on buses, cars and motorcycles got on the bridge in a festive mood. Thousands of vehicles crossed the Padma Bridge after waiting since early hours after midnight on Saturday.
Defying orders, many people were seen walking and taking photos, videos footage on the bridge parking their vehicles aside, while law enforcers tried to bring the situation under control.
The opening of the bridge has brought convenience and comfort to the workers of goods-laden vehicles as their long wait at the ferry terminals has finally come to an end although the ferries would continue to offer the ferry services.
Earlier, On Saturday, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 6.15-kilometre Padma Bridge. She paid the toll herself as the first traveler and crossed the bridge.
Long queues of buses, trucks, cars, motorcycles, and ambulances were seen waiting in long queues on the Dhaka-Mawa Expressway till the gates of the bridge opened.
BBA Supervising Engineer (Bridge) Md Tofazzel Hossain said, “Vehicles have started plying through toll plazas at Mawa end of Louhajang upazila, under Munshiganj district, and Jazira end at Shariatpur from 5:50 am.
“At first, there was some pressure due to all the motorcycles. Then the queues got longer with more buses and cars. However, the situation is under control as the day progresses. The pressure of south-bound vehicles is high,” he added.
Total five booths are being used to collect tolls out of the seven installed at the Mawa point. Two lanes have been dedicated for goods-laden trucks and the others are for motorcycles and private vehicles.
Officials working at the booths said that motorcycles take less time compared to other vehicles to complete toll formalities. On average it is taking less than a minute for collecting tolls from vehicles at the Mawa toll point.
Meanwhile, at the Jazira point, total six booths are now collecting tolls at a rate of 30 seconds per vehicle. The long tailback which formed during the early hours of Sunday at the Jazira end of the bridge has now eased.
Around 100 buses of different companies will make their maiden trips via the Padma Bridge this morning.
Sohag Paribahan Royal Junction counter assistant manager Bulbul said, "Before us, there were two transport companies on Dhaka-Khulna route. At present, there are a total of 17 passenger bus companies on this route."
Almost all bus companies have increased the number of vehicles on the Dhaka-Khulna route.
Crossing the river on ferries and launches usually takes some three-four hours counting the amount of time vehicles have to stay queued up before getting onboard ferries. Moreover, depending on the weather, and vehicle pressure, ferry services can take even longer.
However, now the dream project Padma Bridge has trimmed down that crossing time in only seven to eight minutes.
The long saga of sufferings and hassles of 21 southern districts came to an end with the opening of the Padma Bridge.
Before the opening of the bridge, commuters of the southern part of the country had to face untold sufferings as there was no direct land route between Dhaka and southern districts.
Crossing the river by ferry causes people to suffer all through the year.
Strong river currents often forced ferry ghats at Mawa, Paturia Daulatdia to postpone the crossings- leaving people in utmost hassles and endless waiting. Dense fog in winter also hampered the crossings.
During festivals like Eid and holidays, there would be terrible traffic congestion as vehicles would have to wait for the ferries for hours, even days under the open sky.
The road's inaccessibility through the mighty Padma hit emergency patients hard, with many reports of patients dying while waiting for a ferry to cross the river.
Padma Bridge will also expedite transporting goods to and from Mongla Port in Bagerhat and Bhomra land port in Satkhira, facilitating export trades and easing supplies of essentials in the domestic market.
Thirty-five cargo trucks have reached Dhaka from Bhomra land port in Satkhira in just five and a half hours crossing Padma Bridge.
Traders were delighted to see the travel time cut short Sunday (26 June) for the newly inaugurated Padma Bridge. Earlier, the trucks had to travel for 7-10 hours to reach Dhaka through Aricha ferry ghat.
The government on May 17 fixed the toll rates, range from Tk 100 to over Tk 6,000 for different vehicles including motorcycles, cars, buses, trucks and trailers, for using the bridge.
The Padma Bridge project has been implemented at a cost of Tk30,193.39 crore with almost 100% internal funding which is believed to bring a new world to the country's economy by connecting 21 southwestern districts through roads and railways with the capital.