Padma Bridge was possible due to the people's support: Hasina

The Padma Bridge has become a reality due to unprecedented support from the people of Bangladesh, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, expressing her hope the much-awaited bridge will be inaugurated with fanfare across the country.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 16 June 2022, 09:31 AM
Updated : 16 June 2022, 09:31 AM

“We want the celebration to spread to every district and not remain confined near the Padma River, as the bridge was the biggest challenge for us,” she said.

“By the grace of Allah, Padma Bridge construction has been completed. The southern region of Bangladesh will no longer be neglected. It’s a reality that a proper connectivity system elevates the economy in any geographical location,” she said at the inaugural ceremony of the Palli Janapad, Rangpur and Bangabandhu Academy for Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development (BAPARD) in Gopalganj via video conferencing on Thursday.

People in the southern part of Bangladesh have always been neglected and poverty-stricken, but now the situation will change, the prime minister said.

Mentioning the Padma Bridge inauguration on Jun 25, Hasina requested everyone to be patient and not engage in reckless driving which may cause accidents.

After the Amazon, the Padma is the river with the strongest current, she said, and no one believed that Bangladesh could construct a bridge over the Padma River.

“The bridge we constructed now is a double-decked one where trains will run on the lower deck and road transport on the upper deck. This was a tough task to accomplish and probably the first of its kind globally,” said the prime minister. 

'WE’RE HERE TO BRING POSITIVE CHANGES TO PEOPLE’S LIVES'

Hasina spoke about the hurdles and conspiracies the government had to face while implementing the Padma Bridge project.

“We confronted fake complaints and corruption charges which I challenged. We’re not here to engage in corruption or make our fortunes. We’re here to bring positive changes to the people’s lives and ensure development for Bangladesh.”

Hasina bashed Dr Muhammad Yunus, the former managing director of Grameen Bank, saying he took many opportunities from the Awami League government, but it was his dishonesty that led to Bangladesh losing external funding for the bridge.

She raised questions about whether the managing director of a bank can afford to donate thousands of dollars or go on numerous foreign tours.

She also highlighted that the Awami League government gave Tk 4 billion to Grameen Bank to keep it running in 1998 amid a severe flood and a battered economy with low forex reserves.

Hasina said Yunus donated a large amount to the Clinton Foundation in the US and used his connection with Hilary Clinton, then US secretary of state, to ensure the World Bank withdrew funds for Padma Bridge construction. They also filed a case against Bangladesh in a Canadian court.

The prime minister said it was the time she challenged the World Bank to prove that there was corruption in the bridge construction project. “When they couldn’t prove it, I said we don’t need their money and we’ll construct the Padma Bridge with our own funds.”

'UNPRECEDENTED SUPPORT FROM PEOPLE'

Sheikh Hasina expressed her gratitude to the people for supporting the government when it announced it would construct the Padma Bridge with its own funds.

“The unprecedented support from the people provided us with strength and courage. I believe in people’s power and it’s because of the people that we have been able to build the Padma Bridge overcoming all the hurdles.”

Different quarters tried to discourage and demean the government for constructing the Padma Bridge, said the prime minister. “The Canada court cleared us from all allegations filed by the World Bank. None of their complaints of corruption was proven.”

”Therefore, it was the people’s support that enabled us to build the Padma Bridge despite all obstacles. I offer my gratitude to them,” the prime minister said.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher