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Dhaka Tribune

How Padma Bridge helps us fulfill the SDGs and Vision 2041

All of our significant economic goals become easier to fulfill due to the completion of the bridge

Update : 12 Aug 2022, 11:30 PM

Bangladesh is a riverine country and much of the public transport and businesses depend on rivers. The Padma is one of the vital rivers to influence the country’s economy as well as GDP. 

The Padma Bridge has significant impacts on the whole country that contributes to the socio-economic and industrial development of the south-western region. It has improved the connectivity of these parts of the country with the capital. The bridge is very special as it has been built on a most complex river system, which was a divide between the south-western region and the most important economic hubs of Bangladesh. The Padma Bridge changed the lives of nearly 30 million people living in the south-western region of the country, promoted modern and commercial activities, and expanded economic and job opportunities. 

The Bangladesh government has been rigorously working towards achieving the SDGs by 2030 and attaining middle-income status by 2031. It also attempts to be an economically developed, socially inclusive, and environment-friendly country by the year 2041. The country has reached several milestones, among which the self-financed Padma Bridge is the most significant. 

Economists and policy-makers claim the communication system is called the pillar of economic development. In this aspect, the Padma Bridge will definitely play the dominant role in the overall economic development of the country. In fact, economic growth and development of a country depends upon a good transport and communication system and all economic activity recycle it. 

Due to the Padma Bridge, our economic activities, especially agricultural products, raw materials, and finished goods of industry, will transfer easily and at a low-cost comparatively. Direct connectivity with Dhaka will expand industrialization, trade, and commerce, and ease the supply of raw materials. Swift transportation will result in a quick return of investment and economic expansion.

The Padma Bridge has become a reality undeterred by multiple headwinds. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mentioned that the bridge is not merely a structure of steel, cement, and concrete; it is a symbol of the country’s capabilities, pride, and dignity. She also mentioned that this bridge belongs to the people of Bangladesh and it encapsulates our passion, creativity, courage, endurance, and perseverance. Bangladesh’s foreign friends continue to congratulate Bangladesh on the completion of the Padma Bridge and appreciate its determination and courage under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Alleviating poverty

To improve the lives and livelihoods of the people, the role of this bridge is very significant. The bridge will have a positive impact on achieving the UN’s SDGs by 2030. According to economists, the inauguration of the Padma Bridge will reduce the overall poverty index in the country. They mentioned that once the communication and investment environment is improved, the poverty rate in this region would be reduced by over 1% every year while the countrywide poverty rate would be reduced by 0.84% every year. Thus, our people’s income will increase. 

Experts also mentioned that around 10 lakh new jobs would be created in the next five years which would triple after 10 years. Various additional structures are set to be built on both sides of the Padma Bridge; as a result, there will be a lot of progress in the human development index. Already, the collection of vehicle tolls contributed to our national growth. 

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge is going to be a miracle in many ways. It will be able to bring a radical change in the economic dynamics of the country. Economists said the bridge would function as a “game changer” for the country’s economy. They cited that due to the improvement in regional and international communication connectivity, the GDP growth of the southern region would be increased by 2.3% every year and the overall national level by 1.23% per year. Besides, there will be additional GDP growth once the rail communication is launched.

In several ways, the Padma Bridge is one of the most significant achievements of independent Bangladesh. The bridge has opened up huge possibilities in the tourism sector in Bangladesh. It will have significant positive impacts on the tourism industry, a sector which contributes only about 4% to the GDP of Bangladesh. Since the bridge has improved connectivity between Dhaka to Kuakata, many tourists will visit Kuakata, Sundarban, and its surrounding areas.

The Padma Bridge is expected to save nearly two hours in travel time between Dhaka division and the south-west for cars and buses, and from five to 10 hours for trucks. The bridge also cuts the travel time between Dhaka and the Mongla Port as the distance will come down to an unbroken 170 kilometres, which is much shorter than the Dhaka-Chittagong seaport distance of 264km. It will encourage landlocked countries like Nepal and Bhutan to use these ports. 

The bridge will contribute to creating a multi-dimensional international road and rail transport network for the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent. It will establish the missing link for the Trans-Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railway; these are expected to transform Bangladesh into a regional hub for development, connectivity, trade, and investment, thereby boosting its geo-political value. The international road and rail transport network will promote our trans-border ties as well as cultural development of the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent.

Over the past few years, economic progress, GDP growth, and the gradual improvement of various social indicators have gained international recognition. Of course, this bridge will reduce overall poverty and contribute to industrial development, regional trade, agricultural expansion, and connectivity. Setting up economic zones, industrial cities, and high-tech parks have already been initiated in the southern region. Gradually investment and employment will be increasing which will eventually develop the living standards of the people. Foreign investors will be encouraged to invest in infrastructure and trade in Bangladesh. 

Therefore, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge will support Bangladesh towards achieving the SDGs by 2030, attaining middle-income status by 2031, and being a developed country by 2041.

Md Jahangir Alam is Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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