Dhaka, Bangladesh – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has inaugurated a landmark bridge over the turbulent Padma River after years of delay on account of allegations of corruption that pressured the World Financial institution to stroll away from the practically $4bn mega mission, which is able to join Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka to the underdeveloped southwestern area of the nation.
The opening on Saturday of the eponymous Padma Bridge – Bangladesh’s longest bridge up to now which has been dubbed a “image of nationwide pleasure” – marks a momentous event within the South Asian nation’s historical past.
The development of the 6.15km (3.82 miles) bridge started in November 2015 to attach 21 districts of the nation’s southwest with Dhaka through street and rail, thereby slicing journey time significantly.
It often takes 15 to 22 hours to cowl a distance of 180-300km (111-186 miles) between the southwest districts and Dhaka.
The double-layer metal truss bridge incorporates a four-lane freeway on an higher stage together with a single-track railway on the decrease stage.
With a development price of $3.87bn, this is among the largest mega initiatives Bangladesh has ever undertaken and your entire quantity is financed by the Bangladesh authorities.
In 2012, the World Financial institution withdrew from a $1.2bn mortgage settlement for the mission following allegations of corruption. Following go well with, different donors, together with Asian Improvement Financial institution (ADB) and Japan Worldwide Cooperation Company (JICA), additionally pulled out of the mission.
Hasina, who spearheaded efforts to construct the bridge, famously declared that her authorities would self-fund the mission.
Her choice confronted a battery of scepticism from the nation’s economists in addition to political opponents since Bangladesh didn’t have any expertise in constructing such mega infrastructure with out monetary assist from multilateral donors.
“Some individuals stated we’d at all times be beholden to others, however our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman taught us the significance of self-respect,” Hasina stated, addressing a sea of individuals on Saturday.
Sheikh Rahman was Bangladesh’s founding father who led the motion to secede from Pakistan in 1971.
“This Padma Bridge will not be a pile of brick and cement, however a logo of Bangladesh’s pleasure, honour and skill,” she stated.
“We’ve proven the world that we are able to.”
An engineering marvel
Terming it as an “engineering marvel”, consultants say the development of the bridge is a superb feat because the Padma is probably the most “treacherous and unpredictable” river after the Amazon River of South America.
China’s state-owned Railway Main Bridge Engineering Group (RMBEG) was tasked to guide the development of the bridge with the assistance of about 1,200 Bangladeshi engineers.
With metal piles being pushed 122 metres (400 ft) deep into the river mattress, Padma Bridge has the report of getting the deepest piling amongst all of the bridges on the earth.
The bridge mission director, Shafiqul Islam, informed Al Jazeera that the water that flows at Mawa level (one finish of the bridge) each 20 seconds is the same as the overall quantity of water utilized in Dhaka metropolis a day.
“After Amazon, Padma has the strongest present [roughness in water] on the earth. So we needed to go for piling that’s the thickest and deepest on the earth,” he stated.
Mentioning one other distinctive characteristic of the bridge, Islam stated, trendy friction pendulum bearings (FPB) have been used to assist the metal superstructure and the concrete pier basis.
“Such bearings have by no means been used wherever on the earth earlier than and so they can stand up to a magnitude 9 earthquake,” he stated, including that the bridge bearings can maintain greater than 10,000 tonnes, exceeding the restrict of some other construction on the earth.
Islam stated as they confronted a plethora of engineering challenges, the price of the mission rose to virtually thrice the preliminary estimate of $1.2bn.
“In addition to, the devaluation of Bangladeshi forex Taka has performed a significant function in elevating the fee, as greater than half of the mission’s expenditure has been paid in overseas forex.”
Why a big construction?
Situated some 68km (42 miles) from Dhaka, the Padma Bridge will work as a gateway to the nation’s southwestern area and can considerably scale back journey time between Dhaka and main districts within the area, together with Khulna, Jashore and Barishal.
It can additionally slash the gap between Dhaka and Bangladesh’s second-largest seaport, Mongla, by 100km (62 miles).
The mighty Padma separates the southwest area from Dhaka and persons are pressured to journey on ferries or launches that make gradual journeys. Perishable items transported to Dhaka from southwestern districts by truck typically rot as a result of on the lengthy journey that may generally take 22-24 hours as a result of lengthy tailback in ferry stations.
In accordance with a examine by the government-run Bridge Division, the Padma Bridge will save a complete of 187,727 hours of ready for ferries per day for two,620 automobiles. It’s estimated that with the opening of the bridge, about 24,000 automobiles will cross the river each day – a big soar from the present variety of 2,620.
The examine additionally identified that the financial impression of the bridge will assist enhance the annual gross home product (GDP) of the southwest area by 2.5 % and the general GDP of the nation by greater than 1.23 %.
Economist Selim Raihan, who carried out a examine on the financial impression of the bridge, stated its major profit is that it’ll join southwestern districts – identified for fishing and agriculture – to the financial lifeline of Bangladesh – the Dhaka-Chattogram financial hall.
“As communication and transportation over Padma River had been solely reliant on ferries, a lot industrialisation didn’t happen within the southwestern districts thus far,” he informed Al Jazeera.
“Readymade garment sector – Bangladesh’s most outstanding trade and major export earner – has remained utterly absent from these districts.”
“I imagine, buyers and industrialists can be to take a position there that may spark an enormous financial progress.”