Padma Bridge: New Life of Development in Bangladesh

Padma Bridge is the most challenging project in the history of Bangladesh. The padma bridge is simple blessing for the people of south-west region of Bangladesh. In the whole, the bridge will bring dramatic change in every sphere of our life. It will be able to serve as the gateway between the capital city Dhaka and 21 south western districts, in changing people’s mindset with hope for rapid and vast socio-economic development.

Padma Bridge

The padma bridge is a multipurpose road rail bridge across the Padma River to be constructed in Bangladesh. After the construction work it will be the largest bridge in Bangladesh. It will connect Louhajong, Munshiganj to Sariatpur and Madaripur linking the southwest of the country. The two level steel truss bridge will carry a four lane highway on the upper level and a single track railway on the lower level. The project inter connects three districts  Munshiganj, Shariatpur and Madaripur. Accoding to the latest estimate by the bridge division, the total cost of padma Bridge project is TK 28, 393 crore (Billion USD 3.69).

Development Programmes

The government has taken massive development programmes targetline the padma Bridge planning to establish a high-tech park in Shariatpur, In Bagerhat, already started construction of an airport. The bridge will also connect the Payra sea port. It will also help decentralized the government administration. Our prime minister has a plan of making Faridpur a separate division.

The padma bridge is simply a blessing for the people of south western region. They are already feeling the momentum. It will also create an opportunity for developing tourism business in that area. Without massive infrastructure development, Bangladesh economy will not achieve double digit growth to be a mid-income nation by 2030. So, the government has taken bold step to build the padma bridge.

The padma bridge will provide direct connectivity between the central  and south-western part of the country through a fixed link on the river padma. Though the south-west region is to Mongla the second sea port; to Khulna the third industrial and commercial city centre; and to beanpole-the largest land port; the socio-economic and industrial development of this region with a population of over 30 million, remain relative disappointing.

Untill nnow all road and rail communications between the central and south-western ports of the country have to rely on the time-consuming feny services that were often disrupted because of navigability problems. The need for a bridge over the padma has been felt, especially by the people living in south – western part of Bangladesh for a long time. Once this mega project is completed, travel among all the major divisions and cities between the two sides of the river will be easier and faster.

Padma Bridge and Regional Markets

By facilitationg transportation across the river, the Padma Bridge is expected to led the greater integration or regional markets within the Bangladeshi national economy. On the basis of their suitability of capture primary and secondary economic impacts of construction project, three different types of economy wide models are employed in addition to traditional traffic model to capture the total and economy wide impacts of padma Bridge. Outcomes of all types of models are positive. In the traffic model, road users benefits are established based on the saving on vehicle operation cost and savings in travel time cost.

Socio-Economic Impact of Padma Bridge

The padma bridge will contribute significantly towords facilitationg the social, economic and industrial development of this relatively underdeveloped region with a population of over 30 million. The area of influence of the district benefit of the project is about 44,000 km2 or 29% of the total area of Bangladesh. Therefore, the project is viewed as very important infracture towards improving the transportation network and regional economic development of the country. The bridge has provisions for rail, gas, electric line and fiber optic cable for future expension. At the same time it is expected to raise Bangladesh’s GDP by 12% pushing it over 7% and thus, enabling it to become a middle income country by world bank standards, with over $ 1000 per capital income by 2021.

Traffic and Revenue Forecasts

A transport model was developed by AECOM to forecast traffic volume and revenue on the Padma Bridge. The calibrations of the model was done using detailed information on socio-economic and travels patterns. Some of the key parameters and variablr includes:

  • Changed land use patters
  • Caahanged population and number of households
  • Regional and national economic growth
  • Growth in car ownership
  • Increase in value of time

When the forecasting exercise was conducted it was projected that opening year traffic would be 12000 vehicle per day, growing over 63000 in thirty years at a growth rate of 6.3% per anum. AECOM argued that initially trucks and buses make up around 75% of vehicles on padma bridge. Although light vehicles (CARS AND MOTOR CYCLES)  make up an increasing proportion of traffic as vehicle ownership in Bangladesh increases. They further stated that by 2036 traffic volumes on Padma Bridge are assumend to be close to capacity, given current capacity assumptions and vehicle technology.

Padma Bridge and poverty Reduction

Apart from road and railway transport, poverty reduction was another aspect that got great attention to as an immediate after effect of the padma bridge. Asian Development Bank document prepared for its Board read, ‘’ The south-west zone has one of the highest poverty rate in Bangladesh, according to the household income and expenditure survey conducted in 2005. While 42 % of the population of the whole country lived below the absolute poverty line, the south-west zone had a poverty incidence of 52% in Barisal Division and 46% in Khulna Division. During construction, local unemployed people will gain employment and increased commercial activity will generate income. The country will be physically integrated through the fixed link reducing economic disparity and deprivation. An estimate of multiplier effects on the project investment shows the bridge increasing the gross domestic product, growth rate by 1.2% and the regional growth rate in the south-west zone by 3.5% generating 7,43,000 person yearly of additional employment and there-by contributing 1.2% of the total market of Bangladesh. Over the long term the bridge’s impact on poverty reduction will be more significant.

Padma Bridge and Dimension of Regional Integration

Asian Development Bank document noted “ The bridge is expected to have sub-regional impacts by forming part of the Asian Highway route A-1, the main Asian Highway route connecting Asia to Europe” . The feasibility study report also mentioned of promotion of international trades between neighboring countries. It will also provide connectivity to Trans Asian Railway.