Padma Bridge Gives a Boost to Tourism

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Saiful, a former van puller now serves ‘fuchka’ (street food) close to the Padma Bridge. He now makes a lot of more money than he did in the past because of the tourism boom in the area since the Padma Bridge opened in June 2022. Saiful and other day labourers are benefiting from the positive development in the region by becoming involved in informal tourism and making a solid life. Many people are now travelling there only to view the Padma Bridge, a cutting-edge infrastructure marvel. Jessore’s Flower, Pirojpur’s famous guava, and Bagerhat’s Shrimps are being supplied to Dhaka and other parts of the country within the shortest possible time, thanks to the Padma Multipurpose Bridge.

Bangladesh’s economy is expanding despite the bleak global economic outlook and the ongoing financial crisis. Bangladesh’s per capita income, which was $2,260 in 2020, is expected to increase to $2,860 in 2025, according to the Global Economic Forum. Bangladesh’s status as a growing economic force in South Asia is now enhanced by its sponsorship of the massive Padma project. According to transportation experts, economists, and businessmen, Bangladesh will benefit from the Padma Bridge for more than $10 billion, which is three and a half times more than the construction cost, over the course of the project’s economic life.The recently constructed Padma Bridge would increase the GDP by Tk 423.62 billion in a year, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). The aim for monthly toll revenue from the Padma Bridge is Tk 133.66 crore, while the annual target is Tk 1,703 crore. Against such a backdrop, it is important to revisit the benefits of the PMPB reaped by the people of Bangladesh in one year.

Padma Multipurpose Bridge marks an important milestone in independent Bangladesh’s history, as it is a symbol not just of Bangladesh’s resolve but of its growing economic capacity and development.The Bangladeshi government chose to fund the bridge’s construction on its own, demonstrating that it was capable of being self-sufficient and “shrugging off the begging mentality” in the face of a national crisis. As a result, the construction of thePadma Bridge has come to represent pride and dignity in the country. Bangladesh was previously referred to as a “basket case” by famed American diplomat Henry Kissinger which has been successfully buriedwith the construction of the Padma Bridge. Besides, such a bold decision has also boosted the self-confidence and mental strength of the nation taken by the pragmatic leader Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

After the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, Mongla Port had an increase in exports and imports of 4.048 million tons of goods between July 1 and October 16 of the current 2022-23 fiscal yeardespite import restrictions and economic inflation. It created fresh opportunities for the country’s southern area.21 districts in the southern part of the nation are already connected to the rest of the country thanks to revolutionary advances in communication management, making the growth of the tourism business in the area inevitable. With adequate planning and growth, the tourist sector may contribute around 30% of the nation’s GDP, according to the government’s vision and master plan. The inadequate communication infrastructure and lack of security were the major hindrances to the industry’s expansion, but both issues have been resolved by the bridge. The building of the bridge has reportedly already stimulated a rise in investment in the area, according to the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA). Over 300 investors have expressed interest in funding projects connected to tourism in the area, such as hotels, resorts, and amusement parks. The improved transportation system provided by the bridge will not only benefit the tourism industry but also help other industries grow and develop in the region.

Because of the Padma Bridge, people’s doors in the southern area have been opened. In the 11 months after the Padma Bridge was opened to traffic, the authorities had collected a total of Tk 7.58 billion in tolls. By June of next year, the train connection between Jessore and Dhaka over the Padma Bridge will be ready. Additionally, the Padma Bridge is helping to streamline local company processes and significantly cut down on travel time. Historically and culturally significant sites like Kuakata, Sundarbans, Badhyabhumi Smriti Shoudho, floating guava market, Durga Sagar, Kobi Krishna Chandra Institute, Khan Jahan Ali Bridge, Khulna Divisional Museum, UN Park, Rupsha River, Khulna shipyard, Gollamari Smriti Shoudho, Prem Kanon Bokultala, Mongla port, Raruli, Mr. Charlie Kuthibari, and Sonadanga Solar Park have witnessed an increased number of tourists after the opening of the bridge.

Padma Bridge has increased happiness for commuters in the south and southwest due to their easy access to village houses via the bridge. Due to countless hardships at the ferry ghat, many individuals before were unable to arrive home in time. However, this year’s situation has altered as a result of the opening of the Padma Bridge, as everyone has been allowed to celebrate the holiday and attend Eid congregations with their loved ones since the bridge’s inauguration. Those who were not born and raised in the southwest region of Bangladesh may not have felt the need for a bridge over the powerful Padma River as keenly. As the tumultuous river has cut off the whole region from the rest of the country, including the capital, Dhaka, the Padma has been a huge barrier to communication and trade for the inhabitants of the comparatively impoverished southern region.

Padma Bridge develops into a comprehensive project that integrates a communication system with a sustainable ecology, making it more than just a single important piece of infrastructure. The Padma Bridge is a crucial piece of infrastructure that supports 21 districts in Bangladesh’s southwest as a pillar of resilience. This region was particularly in danger in the event of future climate change due to the absence of sustainable road transportation options, high levels of exposure and sensitivity, and a lack of adaptation ability. With the construction of the Padma Bridge, the areas most at risk from climate change are guaranteed assistance in the shortest amount of time during any natural disasters.

To promote increased bilateral and sub regional connection, the bridge is playing a very crucial role. This project is regarded as one of the most creative yet difficult construction initiatives in the history of the nation. India has long sought a more expedited transit route through Bangladesh for goods coming from the Northeast and going to Kolkata. The opening of the Padma Bridge is not only assistingto boost intra-Bangladesh connectivity but also offers much-needed impetus to logistics and enterprises linking India and our common subregion.

Padma Bridge is a commitment to strengthening several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Bangladesh along with materializing its vision for 2041. The bridge is also providing improved connectivity and transportation infrastructure, making it easier for people and goods to move between different parts of the country. As the days will pass, people will hope to actually understand the wonders of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge and surely will take pride in it.

– Saume Saptaparna Nath is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

Published in Daily Observer [Link] and Daily Sun [Link]