Padma Bridge: The Technological Sublime’s Impact on Local Economy and Regional Connectivity

After a decade of preparation, Bangladesh is finally opening its most anticipated infrastructure, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge. The 6.15 Kilometre Bridge will connect 21 South and Southwestern districts with the rest of the country by road. It is already established that the bridge will brought socio-economic blessings to the country. However, beyond the domestic impact, the country is also likely to contribute to local economy, export-import and regional connectivity. So what are impacts of the Bridge on local economy and regional connectivity that we are going to witness in coming days?

The Bridge is Likely to Boost Local Economies

While economists are expecting 1.2% increase in GDP after the opening of the Bridge, micro-analysis from a bottom-up approach suggests that the impacts hold more significance for the South and Southwestern districts of the country. The bridge will boost the local economies as they will have direct access to national market. The transport sector is already revamping itself as only owners from Shariatpur have invested 300 crore taka on the transport business. Almost all major companies are likely to invest in this route. Another important shift will take place in the fisheries sector of that region. Currently, the fishermen reach the consumer through the channels of middlemen who makes the most profit. But as the bridge shortens the distance and reduces the travel time, fishermen will be able to reach their consumer directly. After the inauguration, the local fishermen are eyeing for 200 crore taka increase than their current profit. The bridge will also benefit the tourism industry. The region has sea-beach, unique culture, and archaeological sites but due to long water-routes, tourism is yet to flourish in that region.

The bridge will also include the region extensively with the national economy. As cash flow and circulation will increase, it will have a positive impact on the overall community. It will also contribute to alleviate poverty and decrease inequality. A JICA study also reveals that the decrease in travel time to and from Dhaka will increase economic outputs by 5.5% in those districts.

Connecting the Economies Together

The ‘technological sublime’ will have a significant impact on the regional connectivity. Padma Bridge is not just a national bride project only. It has trans-border significance. It is a part of Trans Asian rail and highway that connects the Asian economies together. Therefore, the bridge will also have an impact of globalization of the region.

Besides, the bridge will also decrease the distance between Dhaka and Kolkata heavily. Currently, the distance is 400 Kilometre and takes 10 hours to reach. But once the bridge opens, the distance will be reduced by 150 Kilometre and will take 6-6.5 hours only. This decrease in distance will increase people- to- people connection, regional consciousness, and boost inter-state economy that currently exists.

Reduced distance and shorter transport time will positively impact Bangladesh-India bilateral trade. Currently, 40% of bilateral trade are taking place through the land ports. The bridge will enhance the logistical support to the land ports.

The bridge will also connect South Asia with Southeast Asia. So, it has the potential to facilitate inter-regional trade and commerce in future.

The multipurpose bridge is likely to yield multiple impacts. Besides reshaping our political consciousness, cultural understanding, and deltaic geography, the Bridge will also contribute to South and Southwestern districts’ economy. These districts have higher poverty. So, they will be greatly benefited from it. Again, the bridge will also have a crucial role in the regional connectivity.

In a nutshell, Padma Bridge is not just an infrastructure; it is also a defining architecture for the development of the country.  Hence, Bangladesh is showing profound emotion regarding this technological sublime which will not only benefit itself but also its neighbours and the region.

[Photo by Nahian Bin Shafiq, via Wikimedia Commons]

*Doreen Chowdhury is an aspiring author and analyst. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral studies at University of Groningen. Her areas of interest are Comparative Politics, Globalization, South Asian Studies and Migration Studies. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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