‘Dream bridge’ emerging in Padma defying obstacles

You will be delighted if you go to Mawa ghat on the bank of the Padma river. Because hope-raising activities are going on there. From the river bed a dream has emerged. The name of the dream is Padma Bridge, over which huge turmoil took place. The donors turned back and withdrew the assistance raising allegation of corruption conspiracy. Cases were lodged against minister-bureaucrats. Bad reputation spread in the international arena and the image of the country was razed to the ground. The government was in trouble and darkness of despair gripped the minds of the people. 

At last, one day everything turned around. Government declared that it would not depend on anybody and would construct the Padma bridge with own resources. Slogans were heard all around: “We ourselves will complete our Padma bridge.” The Padma bridge of that conviction and that dream is taking the shape of reality today. It is hoped that within 2018 the country’s longest-6.15 kilometres dream bridge will raise it head in Padma. The construction cost of the bridge has been estimated at Tk 25,000 crore. 

Roaming around this point of Padma bridge it was found that huge activities are going on at Mawa of Lauhajong under Munsiganj. Somewhere preparations are going on for construction of roads, somewhere soil testing is in progress there and at some places construction of platform on the river is going on. Again somewhere pilling is going on and big size workshop is being made. With the help of large cranes goods are being lifted to the barges from the river bank. 

The then prime minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project near fish-storehouse at Mawa on the bank of Padma on July 4 in 2001. But afterwards with political changeover, along with the change of government works on Padma bridge project also stopped. There was no progress of the project during five-year rule of BNP-led four-party alliance and the subsequent period of caretaker government after 1/11. Preparations over Padma bridge began again after the formation of an Awami League-led grand alliance government in 2009. Land acquisition and works for paying com pensation to the affected people and their rehabilitation started. Agreements were signed with several financial institutes including World Bank, ADB and JAICA. But temporary uncertainty was created as the World Bank turned back from the project in the middle way. The government declared Padma bridge will be constructed with own resources. And works have started in accordance with that declaration. 

It is learnt that the work of alignment of the bridge has already been completed. Soil testing has started at the Mawa end from November 1. A good number of houses have been shifted from a Char of Munshiganj, Shariatpur and Madaripur districts. The deputy commissioners (DCs) of these districts are cooperating in this work.

Along the alignment, a channel will be made over the middle of the Char. The engineers concerned stated that pilling work here will continue from floating platform by cutting the channel. 

The cutting of Char has started from Wednesday last. The 1.5 kilometre lengthy Char will be cut by 250 meters breadth. For this six big dredgers brought from China have been installed at the two sides of the Char. 563 families living is this Char have already been evicted from there. The contracting firm of Padma bridge is China Major. Ali Ahammad, Executive Director of the Chinese company’s clearing and forwarding agent SI Chowdhury and Company Limited (SICO), told this correspondent that equipment for the bridge came in four shipments from China to Bangladesh so far. The beginning of the work of main bridge is now only a matter of time. It is learnt that parts of different structures made in Singapore, China and Germany for Padma bridge are supposed to start for Bangladesh from November 27 next. The work on main part of Padma bridge is going to start at large scale from next December 15. 

It was seen on the spot, a one kilometre long pile fabrication workshop is being made at Mawa for construction of the bridge. The construction work of this workshop is going on at the construction yard of the bridge at Kumarbhog beside Mawa. The pile of the bridge will be made at the workshop. The steel plate of the pile will be brought from China. A jetty is being constructed to facilitate the anchoring of big ships carrying equipments by the side of the workshop. Work for making concrete piles for the jetty is also in progress. Works have also started to build another construction yard like Kumarbhog at the Jajira end of the bridge. 

It is learnt from sources concerned that soil testing also has started for the pillars of Padma bridge. The 6.15 kilometres long bridge will be constructed on 42 pillars. These pillars will stand one after another in every 115 meters. Besides 24 pillars more will be set up for three kilometres connecting bridges on both sides at the size of 1.5 kilometer each. Soil testing will be made at 66 points for 66 pillars. Of the 42 pillars of main bridge soil testing has already been done at 13 points at the time of making the designs. Preparations are now going on for soil testing at remaining 29 points.

Soil testing was slated for November 7. It did not take place that day. Sources said the load of soil testing machine needs to be increased. Soon the soil test will start. As the Padma is calm now, the large floating cranes have been used to carry out works. The people are happy with the speed of work of the dream bridge. 

Six years back, no-1 pontoon of Mawa was affected by erosion. Ram (iron plate connecting pontoon with road) and some shops were hard hit. Seven people were missing. The erosion appeared three years ago again. Pontoon nos-1, 2 and 3 were devoured in Padma. As situation continued to aggravate and the starting point of the proposed Padma bridge was about to be affected, the government took initiative to construct embankment. The construction work being supervised by army ended in May. The guide embankment which was a little bit affected is being repaired.

Brig Gen Shah Noor Jilani (PSC), 99 Composite Brigade Commander of Bangladesh Army, said the safety embankment to tackle erosion of Mawa was already constructed. The sacks of sands spreading 130 meter from the bank towards the river beds were kept. On September 4, a test was conducted with modern equipment. The river bed was found to be unaffected during the last monsoon. So, the place appears to be safe. Construction of two km road for shifting Mawa ghat to Shimulia is almost complete. All kinds of security works for the said bridge are being handled by 99 Composite Brigade and 20 Bengal Battalion of Army.

Sharful Islam, executive engineer (river training) Padma Bridge Project, said Sinohydro Corporation Ltd has got the work of river training ahead of the construction of the bridge. The river training work ranging 2 km at Mawa end and 12 km in Zazira end will be held at the cost of Tk 8,707.81 crore. Besides, Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) is entrusted with river training of 4-6 km at Mawa end.

Mawa ghat being shifted to Shimulia

With a view to ensuring uninterrupted work of Padma Bridge, Mawa ghat is being shifted to Shimulia. The construction of ghat at the cost of Tk 150 crore is about to be completed. While visiting Mawa, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan said the ghat will be shifted within this month.

Prof Shagufta Yasmin, Munshiganj-2 lawmaker, said “We are very happy. Daughter of Bangabandhu Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to give real shape of the dream Padma Bridge. People of our locality sacrificed their lands with enthusiasm. In case anybody was upset, I put my hand on him/her and he/she was convinced. Realising the importance of the mega-bridge, people sacrificed the land for their love and respect for Sheikh Hasina. Awami league leaders and activists, journalists and people of all walks of life are working together in this regard. The village homes of daily Kaler Kantho editor Imdadul Haq Milan and Janakantho editor Atikullah Khan Masud are located at Modini Mandal near Mawa. They and their family members gave land for the bridge. If any trouble occurred with regard to rehabilitation work, I took their advice. Thanks to them. The GDP will increase after having the bridge completed.”

Louhojong upazia chairman Osman Gani Talukder said “All conspiracies to obstruct the bridge foiled. Our cooperation will continue as long as the bridge is not completed.