Bhutanese king takes a stroll across Padma Bridge on Bangladesh trip

During his visit, King Wangchuk took a moment to walk along the middle of the bridge before continuing his journey to the Zajira end

Published : 27 March 2024, 10:11 AM
Updated : 27 March 2024, 10:11 AM

Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk has visited the Padma Bridge, the self-financed mega structure billed as the jewel in the Awami League administration's crown.

The monarch embarked on his visit to the bridge, a gateway to southwest Bangladesh, with his motorcade at 9:10am on Wednesday through the Mawa end in Munishganj, said Rajab Ali, the executive engineer of the bridge.

During his visit, King Wangchuk took a moment to walk along the middle of the bridge before continuing his journey to the Zajira end in Shariatpur with his convoy.

The king and his entourage later returned to the Mawa end of the bridge, covering the 6.15 km distance in just 5 minutes.

The self-financed Padma Bridge, inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Jun 25, 2022, and opened to traffic the following day, is a source of significant national pride.

The project was thrown into uncertainty when the World Bank withdrew its financial support in 2012 after raising complaints of corruption over the appointment of consultants for the bridge. But the bridge was later built with Bangladesh’s own funds.

According to Rajab Ali, King Wangchuk was welcomed by the bridge authorities and local administration team when his motorcade arrived at Service Area 2 of the bridge.

Project Director Shafiqul Islam also briefed them about the bridge's features to the visiting dignitaries.

After leaving Zajira, the king stopped his car near pillar No. 18 and stepped out to enjoy the view from the bridge while basking in the spring sunshine.

State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammad A Arafat accompanied the Bhutanese king. Arafat later shared several photographs with King Wangchuk on his Facebook page.

Security was beefed up along the route as King Wangchuk, Ambassador Rinchen Kuentsyl, and several other members of the Bhutanese delegation toured the Padma Bridge.

King Wangchuk and Queen Consort Jetsun Pema arrived in Dhaka on Monday to take part in the celebrations of Bangladesh's Independence Day. On Monday afternoon, he held a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, where they signed three MoUs and renewed a previous agreement.

The Bhutanese king also paid tribute to Bangladesh's martyred freedom fighters at the Savar National Memorial alongside President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Hasina on Tuesday before participating in the Independence Day celebrations at the Bangabhaban.

On Wednesday, the king visited the Araihazar Special Economic Zone in Narayanganj.

He is scheduled to leave on Thursday after touring the Special Economic Zone in Kurigram.