Effect of Padma Multipurpose Bridge on Textile Industries and Economic Growth

Golam Rabbani

Bangladesh is a riverine country. The main rivers are Jamuna, Padma, and Meghna. And so, the communication system of Bangladesh largely depends on the river. Also, transportation through the river is easy and low cost. But there are some major problems such as the duration of transportation is high, river pollution and high risk of hostile weather. In winter, it is common for ferries and launches to be closed due to dense fog, and in summer, there are storms. And almost all year long, there is high traffic in ferry terminals. Where there is a problem, a solution must come!

Jamuna separated two important cities of Bangladesh, Rajshahi and Rangpur from other cities. Since the installation of the Bangabandhu Bridge in 1998, Rajshahi and Rangpur have been connected to Chattogram, Sylhet, and Dhaka through Railroad and Land-Route.

Another river is the Padma which is one of the most important rivers in Bangladesh. This river flows through about 12 districts of Bangladesh. Originating from the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas, the Ganges enter Bangladesh through the Rajshahi District and enter Bangladesh by the name ‘Padma’. The Padma enters Bangladesh from India near Nawabganj and meets the Jamuna near Aricha and retains its name, but finally meets with the Meghna near Chandpur and adopts the name “Meghna” before flowing into the Bay of Bengal. The Padma is the river that separates Khulna and Barishal from other cities. And most importantly it divided the most crowded area, Dhaka.

That’s why a fast and secure Land-Route was needed to complete the connection between all the cities of Bangladesh.

The Bangabandhu Bridge was inaugurated on 23 June 1996. At that time, an initiative was taken to build a bridge to facilitate the communication of the people in the southwest part of the country. In 2001, the feasibility of the Padma Bridge was tested with the help of Japan. In July 2004, the government decided to build the Padma Bridge in Mawa-Jazira following the recommendation of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency. The final design of the 6.15 km bridge was then made. Rail will run below and motor vehicles above. Building the Padma Bridge was a big challenge because 0.14 million cubic meters of water flow every second at Mawa Point, which is right next to the Amazon River. Work on the Padma Bridge was inaugurated in 2015. The first span of the Padma Bridge was laid in 2016. The last span was set up on 10 December 2020. Finally, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Padma Bridge on 2022 June 25 at 10 am.

The Padma Bridge has been praised at home and abroad for its self-financing. The dignity of the country has also increased.

Dhaka’s communication with 21 southern districts has been improved enormously. The direct connectivity with the capital will help expand trade and commerce, and ease the supply of raw materials and industrialization. Small and big industries will be set up in the 21 districts. The South-East part of Bangladesh is familiar with production in agriculture which will greatly improve. Farmers will get better commodity prices. Production of raw materials for industries will increase a lot. The southern part of the country will get connected to the Trans-Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railway. Bangladesh will have international connectivity with India, Bhutan and Nepal. Economic zones, high-tech parks and private industrial cities will be built on both sides of the bridge. Investment and employment will increase. Also, the seaport connection is easier now.

Textile is the major industry and one of the main sources of income in Bangladesh. More than four million women and men are employed in textiles. Raw materials for the textile industry are imported from different parts of Bangladesh. Jute and cotton are the raw materials produced in the country. In the past, almost all types of goods were brought by river, which is time-consuming and, in many cases, quite risky. Time is the most important variable in the textile industry’s reputation and quality control requires accurate and best raw materials. Dhaka is the main branch of almost all the major textile industries in the country. Now the Industries and their production will be improved by establishing easy and fast communication with Dhaka and other districts. Chittagong was the only seaport in Bangladesh and now Mongla and Payra seaports will play a very important role too. Imports and exports will increase. One of the biggest benefits of the textile industry will be the improvement of the travel facilities of the workers. There are a lot of workers in the textile industry of the country from Barisal and Khulna. Since textile is a very busy sector, improving the communication system with the workers and their homes in this busy time will make the life system much easier. The production of RMG will increase by shortening this time and travel gap for industries and workers.

Most importantly, Bangladesh’s communication with various countries, including India, Nepal, and Bhutan, has been improved through the Padma Bridge. Which will inspire domestic and foreign investors to invest in new industrial factories and entrepreneurs. New textile factories will be set up in the southeastern part of Bangladesh.  Overall, Bangladesh’s textile industry will go ahead in most aspects.

The Padma Bridge will significantly change the economy of the country’s southwest portion, evidence of which is the Bangabandhu Bridge, around which an industrial revolution has taken place in North Bengal. Experts predicted that many small and big industries are going to grow in the south-western part of the country along with the Padma Bridge route, including manufacturing businesses, RMG, assembling plants, and storage facilities. According to JICA estimates, a 10 percent reduction in travel time from Dhaka would increase the district economy to 5.5 percent, which would increase the region’s annual GDP growth by 1.7 percent. According to a BSIC source, 500 to 1000 factories in the different sectors will be set up in 6 districts of the Barisal division in the next ten years. If demand for gas, electricity, internet, and infrastructure in the southwest can be met, trade between India, Nepal, and Bhutan with Bangladesh through the region will increase. As a result, the economic landscape of the southwest definitely change.