Probably the highlight of the year was the long-awaited opening, at last, of the Padma Bridge - the country's flagship development project for a decade if not longer now. A jubilant nation cheered the prime minister as she unveiled the plaque at the Mawa end of the 6.15-km bridge over the famously unruly river.
As the country woke up on a weekend holiday, millions became glued to their TV screens to watch the live telecast of the grand opening ceremony. The premier became the first citizen to pay the toll and cross the bridge that majestically arched over the mighty river. To mark the historic moment, she unveiled commemorative postage stamps, souvenir sheets, opening day cover and seals and a note of Tk 100 as part of the grand opening of the country's biggest self-financed mega project.
The bridge has connected directly the country's 21 south and south-western districts with the capital, which is expected to accelerate the GDP growth by 1.23 percent and make an outstanding contribution to socio-economic development by alleviating poverty at the rate of 0.84 percent per annum, according to the government's own estimates (which might be a bit dates).
In any case, there is immense importance of this bridge for the multifaceted development of the otherwise underdeveloped south and south-western region. It opens new opportunities for the development of the region, especially in agro-based industries and tourism.
The Padma Bridge will play a significant role in harnessing the agricultural and fishery resources of the riverine-coastal area and in rapid marketing of the resources throughout the country.
It is expected to utilise the full capacity of Mongla seaport, Payra seaport Rampal Power Plant, Payra Power Plant and other large projects, being implemented by Sheikh Hasina-led government in this region. The cross-border trade through important land ports located in this region like Benapole, Bhomra and Darshana will increase. The bridge has installed the connectivity of electricity, gas, optical fibre and other utility services between the two sides.
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