Vol. 4 Num 342 Mon. May 17, 2004  
Front Page

Bridge on Padma opens tomorrow

The country's second longest bridge named after Baul saint Lalon Shah opens to traffic tomorrow, connecting Kushtia and Pabna districts across the Padma River at Paksey.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia will inaugurate the 1.8-kilometre bridge constructed at a cost of Tk 1,065 crore, with Tk 820 crore provided by Japan Bank of International Co-operation (JBIC).

According to communications ministry sources, all is set for the commissioning, which will have Japanese Ambassador Matsushiro Horiguchi present as the special guest.

JBIC Deputy Director General Ryotaro Koga has already flown in from Japan to attend the function, where he will read out a message from JBIC Governor Kwosuke Shinozawa.

The name of Lalon Shah, perhaps the most popular Baul of the country who lived and sang in Kushtia in the 19th century, lends a sort of halo of sanctity to the structure. It also has two more distinctions -- the deepest bridge foundation and the longest continuous concrete structure in the world.

Chinese contractor Major Bridge Engineering Bureau had started the construction works in August 2000. A large team of 300 Chinese and 1,400 locals worked round the clock at the site, some 300 metres down from Hardinge Railway Bridge.

Lalon Shah Bridge is the last but one installation required for establishing a direct road link through Jamuna Multi Purpose Bridge between Mongla Port and the capital. It now remains for bridging the last break, Rupsha River in Khulna, by building the Rupsha Bridge, to materialise that unbroken road link. Construction of Rupsha Bridge is reckoned to be completed by June 2005.

"The government has fixed a very reasonable toll rate for motorised vehicles to use Lalon Shah Bridge," a Roads and Highways department source said. It is estimated that around 2,500 vehicles, mostly lorries, would cross it every day, he added.