Recently BSRM and The Daily Star organised a roundtable on “Padma Bridge — New Lifeline of Development”.

We are very glad to see the recent progress of the Padma Bridge project. I want to give my sincere thanks to the PM for her relentless effort to make it happen. Now we expect timely completion of the project so that the country can reap the best out of it.

AFM Saiful Amin, Professor, Civil Engineering Department, BUET (Keynote speaker)

Padma Bridge is the most challenging construction project in the history of Bangladesh. With 150 m span and 6150 m total length it is going to be the largest bridge in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basins of country in terms of both span and the total length. It has considerable geo-morphological challenges due to high mica content present in the subsoil. Scour depth of the river system is another big issue. The number of piles has been optimised considering the scour depth at the bridge location and also to make the bridge earthquake resistant. The base-isolation technique has been established using special types of bearings and joints. Special care is required on this critical aspect. The river training work will be a difficult task. At the bridge site, weather condition varies rapidly and unpredictably. The river continues to shift its course. So, we need to carefully monitor the ever changing geo-morphology of the river during construction and after construction as well.

In the southern region we do not have enough rail networks. The Padma Bridge will provide the missing but essential rail infrastructure to effectively connect this region on rails. There will be connecting railways on both sides of the bridge. The existing Dhaka-Mawa two-lane road needs to be expanded further at the later stage of the project. The Bridge has toll plazas and service area on both sides. The transportation mode in the bridge has been conceived in a broad context. There will be rail lines, roads, high pressure gas transmission line and fibre optic communication link in the bridge that will make it a multimodal combination.

We are largely dependent on foreign countries for primary raw materials of the construction project. This is a big constraint for us, and it increases the cost of the project. Timely completion is another important issue. Undue delay means higher cost.

We also need to consider sustainability of the project. There is a considerable fatigue issue related to already foreseen repetitive heavy loads on the bridge. As soon as the bridge goes into operation we need to start close monitoring at the critical locations of superstructure. The plan needs to be chalked out at least during construction. Corrosion is another important aspect to be considered seriously because the area has comparably high corrosive rate. We need to deploy necessary devices and sensors for intensively  monitoring the scour depth at each pier locations and river training works. Overall, we are trying to enforce an international standard for the operation and maintenance of the bridge, some of which need to be started right at the construction phase. If we can complete the project successfully it would be a big boost for our regional and sub-regional connectivity. And the country will enter a new era of development.

Nahim Razzak MP, Shariatpur-3

The government has taken massive development programmes targeting the Padma Bridge. We are planning to establish a high-tech park in Shariatpur. In Bagerhat we have already started construction of an airport. The Bridge will also connect the Payra port. It will also help decentralize the government administration. Our PM has a plan of making Faridpur a separate division. According to economists, the Bridge will add 1.66 % growth to our GDP. We will be able to bring a dramatic change in the life of the poor people of the region within next ten years.

On a different note, siltation is a massive problem in our region. Construction of the Bridge will exacerbate the problem. I would request the authority concerned  to look into it seriously.

Mahfuz Anam, Editor & Publisher, The Daily Star

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