Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday declared that Padma Bridge is not just a concrete infrastructure of brick, cement, steel and iron, rather this is a symbol of nation's pride, honour and ability.

"The bridge belongs to the people of Bangladesh. It involves our passion, our creativity, our courage, our endurance and our perseverance," she said.

The premier was addressing the grand opening ceremony of the country's largest bridge -Padma Bridge- over the mighty Padma River at Mawa end.

She said the much-cherished bridge stands on the turbulent Padma River overcoming many obstacles and breaking the web of conspiracy.

"Today, I am happy, proud and overwhelmed along with millions of people of the country," said Hasina.

Mentioning that the quality of the Padma Bridge construction work has not been compromised, she said "This bridge is built with the latest technology and materials in the world maintaining full transparency. The whole construction process has been completed while maintaining the highest standards."

PM Hasina said that the foundation of the Padma Bridge is still the deepest in the world.

In this connection she said that the piles of this bridge have been laid up to a maximum depth of 122 meters while sophisticated technology has been used for earthquake prevention.

"Because of some of the more special features, the construction of this bridge will be included in engineering textbooks around the world - that's for sure," she said.

The PM said the engineers of Bangladesh have gained experience in implementing big projects from this huge work. "In the future, we will be able to build such complex bridges or infrastructure ourselves," she further said.

Controlling the treacherous fast-moving Padma River was as much a challenge as building the bridge, she said, adding that arrangements have been made to secure both the banks of the river by successfully tackling that challenge.

"There is a well-managed and well-maintained service area on both sides of the bridge."

On this historic day of the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the prime minister asked the people to take a fresh vow to work for the welfare of the country.

She expressed her deepest gratitude to the people of the country as they were beside her all the time.

She said that she has no allegation against anyone who has hatched conspiracy against the Bridge and the country. "Today, I hope that good sense will prevail upon those who hatched conspiracy and obstructed us over the construction of this bridge, their patriotism will be awakened and they would be more responsible regarding the people of Bangladesh."

When she announced the Padma Bridge would be constructed with own finance, many criticised the government saying that would not be possible with own fund and it's just a dream that never comes into a reality, she said.

Pointing to them, she said they have deficiency in their thought and self-confidence. "I think their confidence will also get enhanced from today that Bangladesh can do," she said.

"Our economy has not got stagnant. It remains moving... Bangladesh's economy has not collapsed. rather it still is growing despite facing the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis caused bythe Ukraine-Russia War," she said.

Hasina said this Padma Bridge has established direct communication between the capital Dhaka and 21 districts in the southern part of the country by road and rail.

She said the living standard of the people of this region will get improved. They will not remain neglected anymore, she added.

Though the bridge is expected to contribute 1.23 percent to GDP growth and reduce poverty by 0.84 percent per year, she believes its contribution would be higher than that, said Hasina.

She said her government will build new economic zones and high-tech parks centering the bridge. As a result, domestic and foreign investment will be attracted and the pace of industrialization of the country will be accelerated. This bridge will play an important role in accelerating regional trade, she said.

About other mega projects, she said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under the Karnafuli River and the Metro Rail in Dhaka will be launched by the end of this year. Rooppur nuclear power plant will start electricity generation in the first half of 2023. Work on the Elevated Expressway in Dhaka is progressing fast. That too will be launched by 2023, she said, adding that the country's economic progress will get further momentum.

The PM expressed her gratitude to all engineers, officials and employees involved in the construction of the Padma Bridge, local and foreign experts, consultants, contractors, engineers, technicians, workers and members of the army.

She remembered Prof. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury and prayed for the salvation of his departed soul. She also wished eternal peace for the souls of those, associated with the construction of the Padma Bridge, who died.

She also extended her thanks to the people living on both sides of the Padma Bridge whose lands and houses have been acquired.

To mark the historic moments, she also 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.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader presided over the inaugural function attended by dignitaries including ministers, lawmakers and foreign diplomats.

At the outset of the event, a theme song and a documentary titled "Padma Bridge: Pride of Bangladesh" were presented.

Cost very reasonable, no scope for corruption: PM on Padma Bridge project

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday told Parliament that the construction cost of Padma Bridge has been very reasonable with no scope for corruption.

"According to any consideration, this cost is very much reasonable. It has very much similarity to the costs of other bridges constructed in the recent times," she said while giving a reply to the questions about the 'high cost' of the Padma Bridge project raised particularly by BNP lawmakers.

Sheikh Hasina, also the Leader of the House, was delivering her valedictory speech in the 18th session (budget session) of the 11th Parliament.

She said the Padma Bridge has opened a golden door for the economic progress of the country.

"It has put a positive impact on the whole nation. All the people now say that we can do too," she said.

The premier said the successful construction of the bridge has created a confidence among the people. The power of the people will usher us to build Bangladesh as a developed and prosperous country by 2041, she added.

Noting that the bridge has not only established the direct connectivity between the southern region and the capital, she said, "I think that it has opened up a golden door for Bangladesh to make further economic progress."

Citing various reasons behind the cost of Padma multipurpose bridge project, she said the cost of the main bridge is Tk12,133.39 crore, including Tk1,000 crore for installation of 400kv electricity transmission line and gas line.

If the Tk1,000 crore is excluded, the cost would come down to Tk11,133.39 crore, she said.

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