Soon after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina crossed the bridge after inauguration on Saturday, scores of people crowded the roads leading to the bridge at Munshiganj's Mawa end, braving a sudden downpour. A similar scene was observed at the other end in Shariatpur's Zajira.
The law enforcers initially appeared indifferent and allowed the crowds to enjoy a stroll on the bridge. The visitors, some on motorcycles, at the Mawa end reached as far as pillar No. 10 where the security forces barricaded them.
The 6.15-kilometre long bridge has 42 pillars.
A couple of hours later, police had to have some tough talks with the enthusiastic crowds as their numbers kept increasing.
“We’ve been watching the construction for the last decade. We are very emotional about it. I’ve dreamt of getting on it on the day of opening. Had I the opportunity, I would’ve gone to the other side,” said Alamgir Hossain, one of the visitors.
Padma Bridge North Police chief Alamgir Hossain said: “They were overcome with emotions as they get to see their dream bridge after waiting for such a long time. They came to the bridge just to see it, not to create a ruckus. They went back after we spoke to them.”
“Their emotions are tied to the bridge. There were no big issues,” said Mostafizur Rahman, chief of Padma Bridge South Police Station.
Although the Bridges Authorities had earlier issued warning that strolling and even taking pictures on top of the bridge is prohibited for security reasons, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader had said earlier that people might be allowed to walk on the bridge for some time on the day of opening.
The bridge will be opened to traffic at 6 am on Sunday, essentially connect a highway networks between 21 southwestern districts and Dhaka.
Md Shafiqul Islam, director of Padma Multipurpose Bridge project, said the bridge is ready for vehicles to cross.
“We think there will be a huge pressure of traffic on the first day. We’ve trained the toll officials accordingly. We hope they’ll be able to handle the pressure. We’ve also taken all preparations for maintenance and security of the bridge.”
PM Hasina was the first to pay the toll and cross the bridge with her convoy after the opening.
Most of the buses that will use the Padma Bridge to their destinations will set off from Sayedabad terminal.
Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, general secretary of the Greater Southern Bangladesh Coaches and Bus Owners' Association, said, “The bus services [on the route] that have been suspended for a long time will operate now. Hanif, Green Line and several other companies are also supposed to take the route.”
Greenline Paribahan General Manager Md Abdus Sattar said their buses will travel via Padma Bridge to Satikhira, Benapole, Khulna, Jashore, Barishal and Kuakata. Their first bus to get on the bridge will travel to Kuakata.