The Padma Bridge will be opened to traffic tomorrow (Saturday) fulfilling a dream of the nation many people had foretold far-fetched.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the 6.15-kilometre bridge that will connect 21 southwestern districts through roads and railways with the capital and other areas of Bangladesh, creating a new era in the country's communications and socioeconomic development.
Officials said as the construction work of the country's longest bridge was completed two days ago, the Bangladesh Bridges Authority (BBA) took over the charges of the Tk 301.93 billion bridge from its contractor China Major Bridge Engineering Company Limited on Wednesday.
On that day, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam and Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus visited both sites of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) to inspect the last minute arrangements ahead of the June 25 inauguration.
Officials at the project site said a pandal (fabricated structure) having a capacity to accommodate 3,500 people has been set up for distinguished guests and other people congregating at the Mawa end of the bridge tomorrow where the Prime Minister will address.
They also said to ensure facilitaties and necessary supports for the gatherings, 115 toilets have also been set up around the temporarily-built stage. Besides, health camps at have been set up at both Mawa and Janjira ends of the bridge. Not only that a 10-bed hospital will also be there to meet any emergency medical requirement. The said a control room will be there and a place to take rest has been set up for the Prime Minister as she is expected to stay almost the whole day there on the auspicious occasion. After delivering her speech at Mawa, the Prime Minister will unveil the plaque at the Mawa site.
She will then cross the bridge unveil another plaque at the Janjira site.
The Prime Minister is set to address a huge public gathering - likely to be a million people who are expected to throng in and around the project site from southwestern districts.
"We have done almost all preparations but some petty works like cleaning and the last minute finishing to the structural decorations is going on," said an official from the project site over phone.
Officials at the BBA said invitations to almost all the guests, including diplomats, were sent as of Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has announced total suspension of movement of any kind of vessels or watercraft on the Padma river in and around the bridge sites from 6:00pm Friday to 6:00pm Saturday to ensure safety and security during the inaugural programme.
The project to construct the multi-billion dollar two-tier steel-struss bridge over the mighty Padma was taken soon after the ruling party came into power in 2009. The long-awaited bridge, which has come into being due to the unilateral decision taken by the Prime Minister to construct it with government's own fund after the World Bank withdrew its funding, has established direct road and rail link between Dhaka and southwestern districts though Munshiganj and Shariatpur.
Though the nation's dream has been realised after overcoming various challenges since the PMB project was undertaken over a decade ago, its construction has proved the nation's ability to build a unique structure over a turbulent river like Padma.