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Padma Bridge’s 42 pillars reflect courageous Bangladesh: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the government didn’t become disappointed as the construction of the Padma Bridge has been delayed for two years due to conspiracy.

The 42 pillars of the Padma Bridge are the reflection of a courageous Bangladesh, she said.

The Premier made this remark while responding to a tabled question from ruling Awami League lawmaker Begum Marina Jahan elected from the Sirajganj-6 constituency.

Sheikh Hasina said Our emotion, our creativity, our courage, our tolerance and our confidence are involved with this Padma Bridge. We built this bridge with stubbornness.

She continued At last we saw the light coming out from the darkness. Flash of red, blue, green and golden lights are shining over the bosom of Padma.

The Leader of the House said the conspiracy began when the tender process for hiring a contractor for the construction of the Padma Bridge started.

She said the World Bank, ADB, JICA and IDB had suspended loan agreements alleging corruption in the recruitment process of consulting firms to oversee the construction of various packages of the project.

She mentioned that in 2017 when allegations of a corruption conspiracy were proved false in a court in Toronto, Canada, the World Bank announced a return to the project.

But, for the sake of the country and the people, we took the bold decision to construct the Padma Bridge with the government’s own funding instead of taking the World Bank loan, she added.

With the inauguration of the much-desired Padma Bridge the project is not a dream today but a visible reality, she said, adding that the bridge has conquered all domestic and foreign conspiracies, passed all challenges and showed strong morale of not giving up.

Expressing gratitude for the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, Sheikh Hasina said that she is happy, proud and excited along with millions of countrymen.

Ignoring many obstacles and breaking the wave of conspiracy, the much-desired bridge stands today on the chest of the mighty Padma, she added.

She went on to say that This bridge is not the only infrastructure of brick-cement-steel-iron-concrete, it is a symbol of our pride, our ability and dignity. This bridge belongs to the people of Bangladesh.

The Premier said the launching of the Padma Bridge will accelerate political, social, economic, administrative, cultural and overall development by integrating the two regions of the divided country including the creation of rail connectivity between the south-western parts of the country, development of trade and commerce, creation of new employment opportunities in the field of agriculture, traditional folk art, small scale industries as well as creating an impact on the broader sectors of the national and regional economy.

She said the economic activities surrounding the Padma Bridge would play a significant role in reducing unemployment as well as alleviating poverty.

In addition, direct road and rail connectivity will save huge working hours of the common people and improve their quality of life, she added.

Replying to a query of Syed Abu Hossain elected from Dhaka-4 constituency regarding the price hike of edible oil, the Prime Minister said the annual demand for edible oil in Bangladesh is about 20 lakh metric tons, of which only 2 lakh metric tons are produced in the country while the remaining 18 lakh metric tons of edible oil were imported to meet the needs of the consumers.

Therefore, if the price of this imported edible oil increases in the international market, it will also have an adverse effect on the domestic market, she noted.

Sheikh Hasina mentioned that a deficit also occurs when the production of different items falls short of the targets due to natural disasters, including wars, floods, droughts, and tidal surges.

In addition, if the import of edible oil is obstructed from the sourcing countries for any reason it has an adverse effect on the domestic market, she said, adding, that this is why the edible oil market is becoming unstable.

The Premier said the recent Russia-Ukraine war has created a crisis in the import of goods from Russia and Ukraine, which has also contributed a lot to the price hike of import-dependent goods. For the same reason, the price of edible oil has also increased in recent times, she added.

She said due to the war, production and supply systems declined alongside the rising global inflation and commodity prices and Bangladesh is no exception.

But, it is becoming possible to increase the production and supply of goods in Bangladesh due to timely measures taken by the government, she said.

The Prime Minister also mentioned that in May 2022, the UK registered 9% inflation, while the United States 8%, India 7.9% and Turkey 54.8%, but during this period, inflation in Bangladesh has increased to 7.42% and the average inflation to 7.2%.

She said We are trying to keep the price of commodities affordable by keeping the economy afloat.

Considering the discomfort of common people, the government has already taken various steps to keep the prices of essential commodities including edible oil within the purchasing power of the people, she added.

Answering another question from ruling AL lawmaker Nur Uddin Chowdhury Nayan elected from Laxmipur, the Prime Minister said the Bangladesh Air Force is in the process of building a small range of primary training aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in its own technology.

Following the strategic direction of this endeavour, Bangladesh will one day be able to build high-tech warplanes, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, she added.

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