All over the globe, each and every colossal creation secures its place in history with the lasting impression it renders on the scene, be it in society, politics, or finance. For Bangladesh, a bridge has been constructed in the heart of the river Padma, which is the timeless symbol of excellence that was imbued with the lionheartedness of a country, the unwavering resolve of a leader, and the aspirations of the Bangladeshi people.
Although up against a mountain of obstacles in the financial arena, grappling with legal battles abroad, and tackling the Herculean task of constructing a near-impossible edifice in the second most arid river on the planet, it’s no walk in the park for a nation on the cusp of its prospering growth stage. Bangladesh didn’t let the challenges rain on their parade. They put their noses to the grindstone and made the bridge with their own two cents, showing the world the true grit of the Bangladeshi people. On June 25, 2023, the Padma Bridge celebrated its first anniversary, and it’s expected to have a ripple effect on the economy, society, and Bangladesh’s image on the global stage.
One Year of Padma Bridge: A New Horizon in the Economy of Southern Bangladesh
The multifaceted economic ramifications of the Padma Bridge can be delineated through diverse perspectives. Initially, it is noteworthy that the bridge has been constructed solely through public funds, and the toll collected from the bridge serves as a means to reimburse the government’s investment. Hence, the Padma Bridge toll plaza amassed a sum of 758 crore taka from June 26, the day following the inauguration on June 25 of the preceding year, until June 2023.
The initial disbursement of the loan was executed in April 2023, whereby the first two instalments were granted for a total amount of Taka Tk 3.17 billion. In June 2023, the Bridges Division disbursed a sum of Tk316.02 crore towards the third and fourth instalments of the loan procured for the purpose of constructing the Padma Bridge. This outcome can be attributed directly to the perceived advantageous viewpoint of the Padma Bridge.
Conversely, the socio-economic sector has experienced a significant upswing in the previous year, resulting in a direct impact on the general economy, industrial opportunities, start-up ventures, and the quality of life for the inhabitants of southern Bangladesh. In order to assess the tangible effects and scope of the Padma Bridge controversy, the Sahiatpur transportation system may serve as a representative example of forthcoming transportation advancements.
During the past seven months in Sharietpur, approximately Tk 200 crore has been invested by entrepreneurs in this sector. There are seven distinct companies that operate 350-passenger buses along various routes to and from Shariatpur. The daily revenue generated by a solitary passenger bus amounts to Tk7,500, while the sector has provided employment opportunities to a total of 1,500 individuals.
On the other hand, within the realm of agriculture, an average of 600 metric tonnes of agricultural commodities have been transported daily to the capital city of Dhaka since the inauguration of the bridge. The significance of these agricultural commodities lies in the fact that prior to the construction of the bridge, they were subjected to prolonged wait times in the ferry queue, resulting in spoilage of certain items. Furthermore, a minimum of 150 metric tonnes of fish have been conveyed to the urban centre, Dhaka. Therefore, the bride managed to decrease the duration by a minimum of 4-5 hours, while simultaneously augmenting the quantity of agreed-upon products.
Furthermore, the construction of the bridge is expected to have significant repercussions on the southern seaport of Mongla. Prior to the construction of the Padma Bridge, the monthly average of imported goods was approximately 500,000 metric tonnes. As per the Mongla Port Authority (MPA), a total of 40.1 lakh metric tonnes of various commodities such as reconditioned cars, petrol, fertiliser, clinker, coal, machinery and oil were imported through the port during the months of July to October. During that period, a significant number of vehicles, ranging from 500 to 700, were transported to Mongla port. This action alleviated the burden on Chittagong port and simultaneously opened up a new avenue for importing cars.
Furthermore, the one-year jubilee of Padma Bridge also sparked a new dawn of industrialization in the southern part of Bangladesh. A garment factory has already been created in Barisal, making it the region’s first RMG business.
The Social Ramifications: Do Away with the ‘Sarbanashi’ Padma
Analogous to the economy, the evaluation of social ramifications cannot be exclusively predicated on numerical metrics, but rather necessitates contemplation of the affective and perceptual encounters of persons. The Padma Bridge is expected to have a significant impact on the people of Bangladesh, primarily by dispelling their concerns and anxieties. The river Padma bears immense cultural and social relevance for the inhabitants of the southern region, surpassing its tangible manifestation as a mere water body.
It is a well-established fact that before the construction of the Bridge, people were prone to experiencing heightened levels of anxiety or apprehension owing to a multitude of factors for mobility, transportation, accidents and natural calamities. These factors have caused distress and unease among people. Individuals experienced anxiety due to the impact on critically ill patients who required urgent medical attention, which exacerbated their already heightened emotional state. The social hierarchy colloquially knew Padma as the appellations of ‘Sarbanashi’ or ‘Sarbagrashi’ seen in diverse mythopoeic narrations.
Now with the Bridge, people have come to view the river as a mere drop in the bucket, no longer holding any mythical or formidable connotations. Subsequent to the successful culmination of the Padma Bridge installation project, which transpired a year ago, the citizenry has encountered a conspicuous diminution in anxiety and ambiguity, thereby engendering an unprecedented sensation of emancipation. The Padma Bridge opened up a new era in social networks of people from the remote villages, sub-districts and districts with the capital city, Dhaka and its surrounding regions.
In conclusion, this engineering marvel is a testament to the perseverance and dedication of the people involved in its construction. Moreover, its potential to transform the socio-economic landscape of the country is truly awe-inspiring. The impact of this bridge is yet to be fully comprehended because there is still some time needed for different domains to flourish fully. Despite the fact that the bridge’s socioeconomic outcomes have already ignited some remarkable change in over the period since its opening. Thus, for Bangladesh, the Padma Bridge is that creation is a tale to be told, a story to unfold for generations to come.