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HomeEconomicsBangladesh’s Padma Bridge Constructed In opposition to All Odds – The Diplomat

Bangladesh’s Padma Bridge Constructed In opposition to All Odds – The Diplomat


On June 25, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated a bridge over the Padma River. The longest bridge in Bangladesh, the 6.15-km-long Padma Multipurpose Bridge marks an essential milestone in impartial Bangladesh’s historical past, as it’s a image not simply of Bangladesh’s resolve however of its rising financial capability and growth.

Talking on the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, Hasina stated: “This bridge isn’t just bricks, cement, iron, and concrete This bridge is our pleasure, a logo of our capability, our energy and our dignity. This bridge belongs to the folks of Bangladesh.”

The Hasina authorities’s unique plan was to construct the Padma Bridge with exterior funding from the World Financial institution, Asian Improvement Financial institution (ADB), and the Japan Worldwide Cooperation Company (JICA). Nevertheless the World Financial institution all of a sudden withdrew from funding the venture in 2012, citing corruption of presidency officers. This end in different funders pulling out of the venture too. It critically impacted the picture of the nation and of the ruling social gathering, the Awami League. It was a setback for the folks of Bangladesh as nicely. This prompted Hasina to go for self-funding the venture regardless of economists and opposition politicians warning towards it. So the completion of the Padma Bridge has turn out to be a logo of nationwide pleasure and dignity.

Constructed at a value of almost $3.87 billion, the Padma Bridge is among the largest initiatives Bangladesh has ever undertaken. It connects 21 districts in southwest Bangladesh with the capital, Dhaka, by highway and rail and cuts journey time considerably.

Whereas the worldwide financial scenario is gloomy and international locations within the area are experiencing destructive development, Bangladesh’s financial system is rising. The World Financial Discussion board says that Bangladesh’s per capita earnings, which was $2,260 in 2020, will rise to $2,860 in 2025. Aside from this venture, Bangladesh has additionally prolonged assist to Maldives and Sri Lanka by offering them with loans price $400 million. Bangladesh’s funding of the mega Padma venture will now add to its fame as a rising financial energy in South Asia.

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Awami League leaders credit score Hasina’s robust management over the previous 13 years for Bangladesh’s emergence as a center earnings nation and its different financial successes.

The Padma Bridge’s greatest contribution shall be to Bangladesh’s financial development. Economists say that it’s going to present a 1.3 to 2 p.c enhance each year to the nation’s GDP. When the railway element of the bridge is accomplished, the venture will contribute one other 1 p.c to the GDP. The bridge venture’s contribution to Bangladesh’s GDP is anticipated to rise to five p.c by 2055.

In line with Zahid Hossain, a lead economist of the World Financial institution, the Padma Bridge will lower journey distance by 100 km for round 27 p.c of Bangladesh’s inhabitants to spice up enterprise and agriculture, thereby impacting the nation’s GDP.

Different specialists affirm that the bridge will assist alleviate poverty, enhance commerce, tourism, and trade, and create alternatives for employment within the southwest of the nation.

The Padma Bridge has regional implications as nicely.

It is going to enhance connectivity. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal signed a Motor Automobile Settlement for the Regulation of Passenger, Private and Cargo Vehicular Site visitors in 2015. The Padma Bridge will present the BBIN Community with the connectivity it wants.

For cargo from its Northeast headed to Kolkata, India has lengthy been eyeing a shorter transit route by way of Bangladesh. Throughout his go to to Bangladesh in April 2022, India’s Minister for Exterior Affairs S. Jaishankar stated, “India seems ahead to a stronger subregional cooperation in connectivity.” In a press release issued on the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the Indian Excessive Fee in Dhaka stated that the bridge “wouldn’t solely assist enhance intra-Bangladesh connectivity, however it should additionally present much-needed impetus to logistics and companies connecting India and our shared subregion… The bridge will play an essential position in fostering better bilateral and subregional connectivity.”

The Padma Bridge is anticipated to impression home politics too. Given the mass irregularities within the conduct of the overall elections in 2014 and 2018, the present Awami League authorities has lacked legitimacy within the eyes of a number of international locations, together with the USA. Whereas the Hasina authorities is beneath large strain to make sure a free and truthful election when it’s held in 2023, a growth venture of the magnitude and significance of the Padma venture will bestow the federal government with legitimacy from beneath.

With questions being raised over the legitimacy of elections and the standard of Bangladesh’s democracy, Awami League leaders have been selling the thought of “Much less Democracy, Extra Improvement” within the parliament. They’ll have the ability to maintain the Padma venture as a shining instance of that growth.

Whilst northeast Bangladesh was reeling beneath its worst flood in many years, the Hasina authorities celebrated the inauguration of the Padma Bridge throughout the nation and spent a substantial amount of cash on this. Clearly, the federal government needs to attract electoral profit from the completion of the bridge. Solely time will inform whether or not the Padma Bridge will serve the Awami League’s political and electoral agenda or not.

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