To cross the Padma river, he took ferry or launch trips. “Now I can travel [to Dhaka] 10 times a month if I want to,” the 76-year-old said, as he was excited about the prospects of the bridge to be inaugurated on Saturday.
“I'll take a direct bus ride to Dhaka and return home the same way!” exclaimed Amzad, whose shop and home are just a stone’s throw from the dais erected for a rally to mark the inauguration of the structure.
On Friday, residents of the area visited the site of the programme in a festive mood, with their dream structure in full view.
“I’ve come today because I'm not sure if I can come tomorrow due to the crowds,” said homemaker Ojifa Khatun, who brought her sister and children to the venue.
“We won’t suffer anymore once the Padma Bridge opens. It will reduce the time to travel to Dhaka to one and a half hours from five hours.”
Vendors were selling wearable images and replicas of the bridge, boat, the ruling Awami League’s symbol, and national flags. Many structures have been illuminated in the area.
Law enforcers were struggling to keep the crowds of visitors from the main venue. Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed said every point of the inaugural event and the rally that follows are under a tight security blanket.
The approach roads and areas on the other bank of the river have also been bedecked with banners, festoons and billboards.
Many believe ferry services will eventually be shut down because people prefer the bridge to cross the river. Khandaker Humayun Kabir, who works in the canteen of a ferry, however, is not too worried. The thought of the bridge reducing people’s suffering is giving him comfort.
“I’ve seen how terribly people suffer to cross the river, sometimes for a couple of days. Travellers are harassed sometimes. These will no longer be a problem.”
He believes the ferries will be transferred to other routes.
“I may miss the food we eat on the ferries, but the sufferings will ease,” said Quader Gani, a resident of Madaripur.