The Financial Express

Bridge on the river Payra

| Updated: October 28, 2021 17:39:23

An aerial view of newly-inaugurated Payra Bridge, constructed over the Payra River in Lebukhali area on the Patuakhali-Barishal highway — Focus Bangla file photo An aerial view of newly-inaugurated Payra Bridge, constructed over the Payra River in Lebukhali area on the Patuakhali-Barishal highway — Focus Bangla file photo

With the commissioning of the bridge on the river Payra at Lebukhali, a milestone has been achieved in connecting by road the extreme south of the coastal areas with the rest of the country. Criss-crossed by numerous rivers and a far greater number of canals, the southern parts of the country were isolated islands of various shapes and sizes. The opening of the bridge on the Payra on Sunday last bridged the daunting gap between Barishal and Patuakhali. To make this happen, five more bridges had to be constructed earlier on the rivers Laukathi, Kirtonkhola, Andharmanik, Sonatola and Khagrabhanga. In deltaic treacherous terrains, it is highly challenging to build foundations for long bridges and the river Payra was notorious on this count. So the soil test made earlier had to be reexamined and the design had to be revised by the Chinese construction company responsible for the job.

The direct road link between Barishal and Patuakhali has already established easy communication with all the districts on the western side of the river Padma. Now the people and goods will move faster than before in that region. This will certainly boost trade and economic activities to a large extent. Marketing of commodities and perishable produces will no longer face an insurmountable problem. Many fruits produced in the country's south such as banana, guava, water melon and hog apple could not be marketed fast because water transports were the only means for their transportation. But water routes were inaccessible to many parts of the inland. With the direct road connection established up to Kuakata, the sea beach in the country's south, tourism there is likely to receive a shot in the arm. However, the full potential of the economy of that region as well as the rest of the country will not be realised yet. It has to wait until the Padma bridge is opened.

Commissioning of a bridge is not just the inauguration of a dumb infrastructure. Underneath the exercise runs the vibrant spirit that connects people and places together, brings them closer and facilitates a host of human activities for catapulting in particular local and in general the national economies from their confines. People become more creative and entrepreneurial and its ripple effects are felt at all levels of the economy. The Payra bridge has presented such an opportunity before a vast area of the south. When the Padma bridge opens, the train of development will run in full steam.

If regional disparities are likely to be addressed by such mega infrastructure, there is also a need for decentralisation of administration. There is no point building headquarters for marine fisheries in Dhaka. Patuakhali and Cox's Bazar are suitable places for such activities. Research organisations undertaking projects involving blue economy should also be located in those areas. There is no point crowding the capital city with administrative activities that can easily be shifted to other places. The merit of administrative decentralisation has to be appreciated and appropriate moves taken in that direction.   

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