Published:  01:17 AM, 29 June 2022 Last Update: 01:22 AM, 29 June 2022

Is Padma Bridge a Real hope?

Is Padma Bridge a Real hope?

Fawzia Jahan & Sayeda Sonia Hossain

The construction of the Padma Bridge is expected to benefit Bangladeshis. The benefits are anticipated to result from a deeper integration of regional markets with Bangladesh's domestic economy. The direct effects of the Padma Bridge on certain industries and factor markets are also expected to have a domino effect on the rest of the economy's sectors due to the interconnectedness of economic activities/sectors.

Among the existing megaprojects in Bangladesh, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge is the fastest-moving project with the utmost priority. Millions of people in the south-western area of the country will benefit from this project's significant infrastructure as they progress socioeconomically. The Padma Multipurpose Bridge, the deepest foundation in the world at 128 meters, is the 122nd longest bridge in the world, with pillars that are 3 meters in diameter and radius. The 6.15 km long bridge was first under construction in 2014, and the last span was placed in December 2021.

The bridge will transport gas, power, and broadband internet via fiber optic cable to the country's southwest in addition to the single line rail link and four-lane road link at the top and bottom, respectively. The main bridge and viaduct together make up more than 9 kilometers of the bridge's overall length.

The initial expected costs for the Padma Bridge megaproject were BDT 10,161 crore in 2006 and BDT 20,506 crore in 2011, with final costs rising to BDT 30,793 crore. The cost estimates for the major bridge and river training works, including physical contingencies, were factored into the economic evaluation at 1.25 percent for the first five years of operation and 0.75 percent for the next five years.

A CPD source claims that the Khulna-Barisal region has a poverty rate that is at least 10% greater than the national average. The national poverty rate would drop from 0.84 percent to 1.01 percent as a result of the Padma Bridge's completion. Once the bridge is finished, jute, fish, and agricultural goods from Barisal's Faridpur division may be swiftly transported both domestically and internationally. Farmers and other producers will benefit because they will receive higher prices for their goods, which will improve their standard of living.

Due to the improvements this bridge has brought about in North Bengal's economy, Bangladesh's GDP has increased by around 2%. According to a study by the World Bank, about 30 million people in Bangladesh will directly benefit from the Padma Bridge. The Padma Multipurpose Bridge is a two-level steel truss bridge that connects to the Padma Rail Link project and has a four-lane roadway on the upper level and a single-track railroad on the lower level. According to projections, the Padma Rail Link project would turn Bangladesh into a branch of the Trans-Asian Railway Network and boost GDP growth by around 1%.

The amount of transportation there will grow more than 20 times once the bridge is operational. The Padma Bridge will handle an average of 24,000 cars daily in 2024 and 67,000 by 2050, according to an ADB source.It was estimated during the forecasting exercise that traffic in the first year (2022) would be 12,000 cars per day, increasing to nearly 63,000 in 30 years at a growth rate of 6.3 percent per year. Around 75% of the vehicles crossing Padma Bridge are initially trucks and buses, yet as vehicle ownership rises in Bangladesh, the percentage of small vehicles (cars and motorbikes) in traffic is rising. The Padma Bridge would shorten the distance between Chittagong Port and Mongla Seaport in Dhaka.

According to JICA estimates, a 10 percent reduction in travel time from Dhaka would increase the district economy to 5.5 percent In the context of economic activity, the rate of land sale in Barisal doubled in 2020 compared to 2019.

In 21 southwest districts, according to experts, there will be an industrial revolution, especially in the first year after the opening of the double-decker bridge. A freight truck must go from Barisal or Khulna to Dhaka or opposite in at least two to three days. This period of time will be cut down to no more than one day when the bridge opens, significantly improving trade between the areas. Besides, once the Padma Bridge Rail Link project is completed, the distance from Dhaka to Kolkata via Jessore will be reduced to half, and it will take only 3 to 4 hours, which will also boost the country's international trading. According to a TBS source, employers will increase by about 1 million within the upcoming five years of the bridge's opening, reaching 30 to 40 million in the next ten years.

The region will play a revolutionary role in regional connectivity in South Asia after the Padma Bridge is completed, connecting Dhaka with the Mongla and Payra ports, according to a report by the Khulna Chamber of Commerce. The Chittagong Port now serves more than 90% of the nation's international trade. This port's commerce volume in 2021 was around 90 billion dollars.

It is also assumed that there will be a huge expansion of tourism around Kuakata sea beach, the mangrove forest Sundarbans and Hazrat Khan Jahan Ali (RA) shrine and Sixty Dome mosque located in Bagerhat in Khulna and people can now reach Dhaka from Khulna in lesser time, while industries will be set up here centering Padma Bridge and employment opportunities will be created for several millions.

For the building of the bridge and the infrastructure needed to support it, including the creation of five resettlement sites, the project needed to purchase 755 hectares (ha) of land. In addition, over a period of around 6 years, temporary building sites was needed about 163 Ha of land. 26,500 people from around 5500 families were impacted. Total population potentially impacted (directly and indirectly) may be between 40,000 and 45,000 in Paturia and 70,000 to 80,000 in Mawa.

The component has impact on a total of around 507 thousand acres of land in the Munshiganj, Shariatpur, and Madaripur districts. The majority of the impacted area, approximately 83 percent of the total acquired property, is situated on the Jajira side, while the remaining affected land is situated on the Mawa side. Due to the loss of agricultural land, 30,000 individuals in 10,000 families would experience a loss of income and way of life.
Fisheries, services, trade and transportation, as well as wage jobs, will cause an income loss for 25,000 individuals. After the bridge is opened to traffic, some of these persons will experience indirect effects.

The bridge's influence on area ecology and water cycles, as the Padma River's high-water level rises owing to bridge building. Approximately 295,072 trees were lost (Excluding 485,074 bamboo and banana trees). The project will have an impact on 58 ponds spanning 4.18 hectares and 74 ditches covering 2.66 ha. The total loss of fish breeding area is around 767 hectares. The Padma River is a significant migratory route for hilsa fish. However, fish output losses of roughly 11 tons per year may be offset by fish culture in new ponds in borrow pits. The river will create around 50 million cubic meters of dredging material.

Although there are some disadvantages, it is clear that Padma Bridge offers a wide range of economic opportunities for Bangladesh. According to Bangladesh Bank, The Padma Bridge, and other important infrastructure can contribute to control inflation by enhancing the local supply chain and cutting the pricing of commodities.

Over the 31 years following completion of the bridge, overall benefits to road users from these two sources are projected to be Tk 1.3 trillion (Tk130,000crore). So, this is huge benefit in comparison with cost. Nevertheless, it has come to represent Bangladesh's potential, economic development, and national emotions. All the people  of  Bangladesh  can now hope  to be benefitted of this Multipurpose Bridge.


Fawzia & Sayeda are the members of the Social Research Group (SRG), Bangladesh and students of Public Administration at Comilla University, Bangladesh.



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