The much-anticipated Padma Multi-Purpose Bridge has opened, becoming the world’s 122nd longest bridge, and certainly, Bangladesh’s longest. The establishment of this magnificent infrastructure is especially significant because it will open up major possibilities, effectively bridging the gap between Bangladesh’s marginalized inhabitants in the south-western region and the rest of the country. Dr. Saiful Amin, a professor at BUET, gave a comprehensive interview to The Morning Reads to shed additional light on this effort.
In relation to the Padma Multi-Purpose Bridge project, Dr. Amin cited three major construction obstacles. To begin with, piling the foundation in soft soil was a challenging undertaking. Furthermore, the river had to be trained to flow under the bridge because it is impossible to sustain a bridge when the banks erode at the bridge ends.
Finally, the bridge is composed of steel trusses rather than concrete girders alone, which required the design team to come up with creative solutions to deal with the steel’s susceptibility to rust. However, choosing steel over concrete implies the bridge will be lighter and more durable under the most extreme situations.
Dr. Amin praised the entire building team’s tenacious and collaborative effort in light of the challenges. He admits he had worries about the project: “We were genuinely apprehensive about whether we could link the banks of this powerful Padma River and guide its flow under the bridge,” he said. “We spent a lot of time speculating and preparing, and in the end, we were successful in attaining our objectives.”
“Our engineers are gaining hands-on experience with some of the most daunting technical applications of engineering,” he added. “As a result, they will be better ready to take on more demanding projects in the future.” He also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to our Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and all those who are working persistently to keep our economy moving forward. Dr. Amin feels mega-projects, such as this self-funded one, will greatly increase the confidence of our people.
The distance between two pillars, soil characteristics, and the river’s flow are all important considerations while building such a bridge. As a result, earlier engineers usually used reinforced-concrete pile foundations and tailored their construction technique to the variations in the river bed.
Dr. Amin stated the use of steel as the primary material is a watershed moment in construction history. We had previously used a small quantity of steel section in our bridges, necessitating the painting of broad surfaces. The use of steel, which has a smaller surface area and therefore requires less paint, saved time and energy in the construction of the Padma Bridge. Maintenance cost due to repainting will be lower. “The southern river water is saline enough to cause rust,” he says, adding, “Any difficulty that could occur for employing steel has been thoroughly analyzed by the team and addressed with realistic solutions with appropriate future monitoring.”
The Padma, Meghna, and Jamuna rivers split Bangladesh into three sections; thus, connectivity from port to capital has always been an imperative. It was also important to connect the country’s northern and southern regions, which we were able to do with the Lalon Shah Bridge. However, with irregular ferry timetables, the transportation link between the capital and the southern half is highly insecure.
The recent Padma Bridge has opened up a direct route to the country’s southern regions; in fact, the Mongla port can now be routinely used. Most crucially, a railway link will be installed to the bridge, allowing the transportation of big cargo, as is common in developed countries. The Padma Multi-Purpose Bridge project includes a highway, approach road, river wielding, foundation, and an upper structure.
In conclusion, Professor Amin said that many construction companies, as well as the government’s road transport, highway, and bridge divisions, worked together to complete the Padma Bridge project successfully. Many people sacrificed their lands for this project, but for the sake of the country’s prosperity. He added, “And I think, with the leadership of our honorable prime minister, our government will create a sustainable future. I congratulate the government for successfully finishing this mega project.”