Prime minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the bridge in December, though its exact date is yet to be ascertained.
According to Bridges Division sources, a meeting of secretaries under several ministries is expected to be held today (on Saturday) at the cottage of Padma bridge to observe the progress of the project and ensure support of the ministries for its quick implementation.
The meeting is the first of its kind being held out of the Bangladesh Secretariat, said sources at the Cabinet Division.
A total of three agendas will be discussed at the meeting. Ensuring support of several ministries to implement Padma bridge project is one of them, said Bridges Division sources.
Cabinet secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told on Wednesday that besides having an official meeting, the secretaries will be informed about various aspects and progress of the project by Padma bridge authorities.
The main objective of the meet would be to understand how secretaries can help in the speedy implementation of the project. The secretaries will also be briefed about positive impact of Padma bridge on country’s economy, he added.
The work of the 6.15km-long Padma bridge between Mawa of Munshiganj and Jajira of Shariatpur is now going on in full swing. The government is committed to complete the bridge by 2018. This will be a two-tier bridge, with vehicles plying on top and trains below.
The study of feasibility, design and land reclamation to construct a 160-km railway line on both sides of Padma from Dhaka to Jessore is also being carried out.
According to the railway authorities, the entire plan cannot be implemented right now but a project has been taken up to implement a railway line between Mawa and Bhanga first.
According to the Bridges Division, the China Major Bridge Engineering Corporation (MBEC), which was appointed for the main bridge, will carry out test piling work before the main piling starts in December. Steel-made piles and other equipment are being placed on an experimental basis at the project area.
The soil testing and dredging works have been going on for the last four months for the river training.
Another meeting has been called at the Bridges Division to make an inclusive work-plan for the Padma bridge project and decide the next course of action accordingly. The meeting will be graced by project officials as well as local and foreign consultants and representatives of contract firms.
An official concerned with preparations of the meeting said that the project work faced delays because of monsoon and river erosion. The main piling and river training work were supposed to be completed by November. Now, it has been decided to complete this by mid December and the prime minister’s programme has been planned accordingly.
Roads and bridges minister Obaidul told that all preparations have been taken to start piling and river training at the end of November. The prime minister will inaugurate the project and preparations for this are almost complete. Project work is now progressing as per expectations.
According to the design, the bridge will have a total of 42 pillars. Each will have six piles beneath. Steel spans will be placed on the pillars. The bridge will have a total of 41 spans.
The bridge will have a total of 42 pillars. Each will have six piles beneath. Steel spans will be placed on the pillars. The bridge will have a total of 41 spans.
According to the project sources, 25% of the work had been done till October.
Work on the Padma bridge is broadly divided up into five parts. These are, the main bridge, river training, two link roads and infrastructure (service area) construction. There is also land acquisition and resettlement. So the work has mostly centred on land acquisition, resettlement, link roads and infrastructure.
China’s Sinohydro Corporation was appointed for the river training contract while Bangladesh’s Abdul Monem Limited was given the contract for the two link roads and infrastructure construction.
As per the last amendment, the project cost was fixed at Tk 28,750 crore (Tk 28.75 billion).
– Anwar Hossain