A little over a decade ago amid unsubstantiated charges pressed by the global lending agency World Bank, Honourable Prime Minister (HPM) Sheikh Hasina said this defiantly while making a promise to the nation: building the Padma Bridge, the country's greatest infrastructure venture, with own funds. But last week Bangladesh opened that bridge of pride, owing to HPM Sheikh Hasina’s firm conviction and steadfastness to go ahead with the monumental task that made it possible, defying the sceptics' prophecies filled with gloom and doom. The inauguration of the 6.15km road-rail bridge on one of the world's mightiest rivers gave the world a message about what Bangladesh is capable of with HPM Sheikh Hasina at the helm demonstrating her decisive leadership that helped the country emerge as a rising star in South Asia.
At the directives of HPM Sheikh Hasina, an effort is underway to set up as many as 17 economic zones in southwestern districts to bring about an industrial revolution in the largely non-industrialized region as the opening of Padma bridge is set to add fresh impetus to the acceleration of the economic growth of the country. These zones are part of AL chief Sheikh Hasina’s goal of setting up 100 economic zones across the country, with a view to creating at least 10 million jobs and exporting $40 billion worth of goods and services from the enclaves. With a railway track and gas line to support local businesses, Padma Bridge has connected 16 districts in the Khulna and Barishal division and five in Dhaka division.
As an euphoric Bangladesh soaked in the festivity surrounding the Padma Bridge opening, several national, regional and international outlets gave the event fairly significant coverage – particularly focusing on how HPM Sheikh Hasina emerged victorious over a sea of conspiracies including the infamous one brought by world bank back in 2012 to refuse funding for the project. According to a report, for HPM Sheikh Hasina, the rosy economic picture emanating from the Padma bridge will come as a shot in the arm in the run up to the national election due in December 2023. Bloomberg in another report said “the project is seen as personal victory for the Bangladesh premier as the bridge estimated to boost GDP by more than 1 percentage point.
As Bangladesh has made a statement before the world with this newly inaugurated bridge of dreams, the 6.15-km long link with Dhaka will allow southerners to leave at first light, conduct businesses in the capital, and return home in time for dinner. Economists believe the bridge will not simply change the lives of people in the 21 districts to the south, they think it will energise the country’s economy as a whole. According to the Asian Development Bank’s forecast, as many as 21 districts in the southern part of Bangladesh will undergo revolutionary transformations in a span of eight years.
The opening of Padma bridge, represents a landmark achievement for Bangladesh, not least because it was built with the country's own resources after a much-publicised standoff following World Bank’s unproven allegation against the Awami League led government over funding the ambitious project. Discussions over the 6.15-km bridge date back almost two decades while in July 2001, then premier Sheikh Hasina laid its foundation stone at the Mawa docks but the works were stonewalled after BNP Jamaat combine came to power. Following her return to power in 2009, HPM Sheikh Hasina decided to go ahead with the project though the path had been beset with ceaseless smear by the opposition party and so called self-appointed custodians under the grab of civil society.
Amid a looming global economic slowdown, Bangladesh’s exports crossed $50 billion for the first time ever in the outgoing fiscal, thanks to a remarkable turnaround for the readymade garments sector. According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the country earned $47.17 billion from exporting goods and services during the July-May period of the current fiscal (2021-22). Such a strong resilience put in display by the garments sector had largely been attributed to a raft of measures the Awami League led government rolled out to help the manufacturers offset the difficult challenges thrown by the Covid induced economic slowdown.
In light of the country’s prudent policies undertaken by HPM Sheikh Hasina to overcome the health hazards posed by the pandemic Covid-19, as vindicated by World Health organizations and other global bodies, Bangladesh has now extended its much successful vaccination scheme for five to 12-year-old children. According to media reports parents were urged to get their children’s birth registered to get Pfizer jabs, allocated for the children. Meanwhile, in a separate order, the government has made it mandatory for citizens to wear masks again and avoid social gatherings also.
The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) recently saved an oceangoing ship, which was severely damaged in a mid-sea accident that could have caused the loss of export cargoes and create an obstacle for navigation. The CPA took timely and courageous steps to save the 172-metre container vessel after it tilted seven degrees following a sideways collision with another vessel. According to media reports, the whole operation has turned out as a big achievement for the port as well as for Bangladesh as the job highlighted the port's capabilities to the global community and created a bright image worldwide.


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