The newly-built Padma Multipurpose Bridge, an historic infrastructure milestone for Bangladesh and now the longest bridge of the country, will grow Bangladesh’s GDP by 1.3% annually.
The US$ 3.86 billion bridge, inaugurated June 25, 2022, is forecast to increase jobs, service sector activity and tourism in the country’s southwestern districts. Connectivity to these districts was were poor even a day before the opening of this bridge. The epitome of mega-infrastructure, not only is this the world's deepest bridge, it is a 6.15-kilometre multipurpose road-rail bridge that carries a four-lane highway on the upper level and a single track railway on a lower level.
Not a part of Belt & Road Initiative
In a recent statement, Bangladesh’s foreign ministry clarified that the bridge is not a part of the China's flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and that it was entirely funded by Bangladesh. No foreign funds were used.
It is worth noting that after the World Bank cancelled a US$1.2 billion credit in 2012, Bangladesh decided to build the bridge using its own funds. The decision was perhaps inspired by the government’s realization that they could gain some popularity if they were able to fulfill the dreams of the millions of Bangladeshis who wanted good connectivity between Bangladesh's richer, well-connected northern and southeastern regions and its more isolated southwestern districts.
A boost for agricultural and tourism industries
Until now, the journey to the southwestern districts on the other side of the gigantic Padma River took a very long time. First, boarding the ferries and launches took hours, and the journey itself took three to four hours. Furthermore, traffic congestion meant the journey took even longer. Padma Bridge has reduced this hours-long travel time to only seven or eight minutes.
Until now, because of poor vehicular connectivity, transporting goods to the richer northern markets — including the capital city Dhaka — cost more for farmers, growers and traders from the country’s southwestern districts’ crop, fruit and fish industries, forcing them to sell their products to nearby districts, at lower prices.
However, the newly built Padma Bridge alters this scenario by providing easy access to northern markets and offers scope for higher selling prices. The high-demand Hilsa (Ilish) fish, for example, will get at least 20 to 30 per cent higher prices, increasing the fishing industry’s value by millions of U.S. dollars.
Furthermore, the number of tourists is forecast to increase. The current daily number of 10,000 tourists is expected to increase twofold this year alone, meaning more employment for locals and more revenue for both local and national governments.
Accordingly, existing hotels in the southwest will have higher profits, while according to Draft PaperWork, a service-business providing business consultancy & documentation services, more businesses are already lining up to open hotel, motel and rest-house businesses in these southwestern districts.
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