Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the country’s first ever six-lane Modhumoti Bridge in Narail and the third Shitalakhya Bridge in Narayanganj at 12 noon on Monday (October 10) through a videoconferencing from her office.
The 690-meter long Modhumoti Bridge, which is locally called Kalna Bridge, is built on river Modhumoti at a cost of Taka 960 crore with the funding of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
It connects Narail, Gopalganj, Khulna, Magura, Satkhira, Chuadanga, Jashore, and Jhenidah districts.
Once opened, the people of the south-western region will enjoy faster road communication as the bridge will reduce over 100-kilometer distance from Kalnaghat to capital Dhaka, according to project officials.
People of at least 10 southwestern districts will be able to travel to different areas at less time. It will also reduce travel time from the country’s largest land port Benapole and Jashore to Dhaka, as the distance will only be 130km.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of Modhumoti Bridge on January 24 in 2015 in between Kashiani upazila under Gopalganj district and Lohagara upazila under Narail district.
The people of the region now use the Dhaka-Jashore-Benapole Highway via Paturia-Daulatdia ferry ghat meaning they travel 100 kilometers more to reach Dhaka from Jashore.
According to project officials, the bridge will be a part of Asian Highway which will connect the capital with the country’s south-western zone including country’s biggest Benapole Land Port.
The 27.1 meter wide bridge would have six lanes including four high speed lanes and two service lanes with 4.30 kilometer approach road.
Md Shahidul Islam Milon, ex-president of Jashore Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the bridge will boost economy of the region and ease road communication massively.
The economic activities of Benapole Land Port, Mongla Sea Port and Noapara River Port will increase manifold, he said, adding that the residents of the region can come back to their homes after finishing their jobs in Dhaka within a day.
Some commuters said their longstanding sufferings via Kalna Ferry Ghat would come to an end through the opening of the bridge.
The 3rd Shitalakhya Bridge, which is named after valiant Freedom Fighter AKM Nasim Osman, will connect Narayanganj city with Bandar upazila, boosting economy, easing the communication between Chattogram and southwestern districts via Padma Bridge.
The 1.29-kilometer bridge will enable Chattogram region-bound vehicles from southwestern region and vice-versa to bypass Narayanganj city to avoid traffic congestion and save times, project director of the bridge Shoaib Ahmed told BSS.
Country's economy will get boosted up significantly as it will reduce the travel time of vehicles bound to and from southwestern part of the country, he said.
The people will get maximum benefit from the Padma Bridge, once the new road network is built with the bridge, he also said.
The bridge will connect Madanganaj of Bandar upazila to the east with Syedpur of Narayanganj Sadar upazila to the west. Now motor-run boats are key communication mode for the people of both sides of the river and other areas to cross it.
Talking to BSS, garment worker Tania, a resident of Madanganj said she has to come to Gudaraghat on foot every morning and cross the river by boat to reach her workplace.
Boats often collide with large ships causing death of passengers as plying of commercial ships has increased a lot in recent times, she said.
"Now it has become frightening for us to cross the river by boat. Fears multiply during monsoon. When the bridge will be opened, our movement will be easier and fearless," she said.
Bandar upazila resident and cultural personality Yusuf Atik Malik said the bridge will be more significant in national perspective than local.
Now, vehicles from southwestern region use Jatrabari route in Dhaka via Postogola Bridge to go to Chattogram region or use Chashara and Signboard route to reach their destinations, he said.
After opening of Shitalakhya Bridge, vehicles will not have to face severe traffic congestion in Panchabati BSCIC industrial area, Panchabati intersection, Chashara intersection, Singboard, Chattogram road in Narayanganj or Postogola and Shanir Akhra route in Dhaka, said Shoaib Ahmed.
The vehicles will be able to bypass capital as well as Narayanganj city, he said, adding that moreover the pressure on the capital and Narayanganj city will also be reduced.
Though the project was approved in 2010 in the ECNEC, construction work started on January 28 in 2018.
The PD said the bridge construction is estimated at a cost of Taka 608.56 crore as Taka 263.36 crore came from Bangladesh government fund and Taka 345.20 crore from Saudi Fund for Development (SFD).
The bridge with walkways has 38 spans - five in river and 33 in east and west ends. The width of the bridge along with walkways is 22.15 meters.
The Shitalakhya River separates the Bandar Upazila and Sonargoan Upazila from the district head quarter. These two Upazilas are not directly connected to the district head quarter by road. Kanchpur Bridge (Shitalakhya-1 Bridge) has to be used to go the district head quarter from the two upazilas which requires nearly 30 km of travelling by road to cross just 3 to 5 km distance through the river by boat.
Several thousands of people living in Bandar Upazila cross the river Shitalakhya by boat every day for work in Narayangonj and Munshigonj. Similarly, people from Narayangonj and Munshigonj also cross the river Shitalakhya by boat to come to Bandar or Sonargoan Upazila. The 3rd Shitalakhya Bridge at Bandar upazila, Narayanganj will establish direct road communication between Bandar upazila and the district head quarter.