The long-awaited Padma Multipurpose Bridge opened to traffic on Sunday morning, a day after its inauguration.
The bridge opened 10 minutes before schedule at 5:50 am. Motorcyclist Aminul Islam became the first civilian to cross the bridge from the Mawa end after paying a toll of Tk 100.
Aminul said that he arrived in the area with his friends from Kamrangirchar to cross the bridge. They were waiting for the toll plaza to open since dawn.
The 6.15-kilometre-long bridge will connect the southwest of Bangladesh with Dhaka through road and rail links. It took seven years to complete the construction of the country’s longest bridge.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated Bangladesh’s longest bridge on Saturday amid huge festivity. It was an emotional and joyous moment for her and the nation.
Many people were looking forward to the opening of the bridge on Sunday. A lot of them queued up at different ends of the bridge at night with various vehicles to cross the bridge in the morning.
A long line of vehicles was seen at the Mawa end in the early hours of Sunday. Before the clock hit six, 14 toll gates on both ends of the bridge were opened.
Project Director Shafiqul said, “There will be a lot of traffic pressure on the first day. Our workers have been trained to handle the situation. Hopefully, they will be able to handle the traffic. In addition, all kinds of preparations have been made for the maintenance and safety of the bridge.”
People riding on motorcycles, private cars, buses, trucks were spotted crossing the bridge with great enthusiasm. Three-wheelers, however, have been banned from running on the bridge.
The toll for cars and jeeps has been fixed at Tk 750, microbuses at Tk 1,300. It costs Tk 100 to cross the bridge with a motorcycle.
Most of the buses travelling on the Padma Bridge are leaving from Dhaka’s Sayedabad Inter-District Bus Terminal.
Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, general secretary of the Greater South Bengal Coach and Bus Owners Association, said that the same buses that used ferries to cross the Padma River would cross the bridge on Sunday.
“Our buses on this route were shut for a long time. Buses of other companies, including Hanif and Green Line, are also scheduled to cross the bridge on Sunday.”
General Manager of Green Line Paribahan Md Abdus Sattar said that their buses would go to Satkhira, Benapole, Khulna, Jashore, Barishal and Kuakata via the Padma Bridge.
“All our vehicles are air-conditioned. The route permit has been already obtained and we will run our buses on this route from Sunday.”