Chinese engineers made their mark with the installation of the first box girder of Bangladesh’s longest railway viaduct on Tuesday, December 31st, just before the New Year. The 50-ton box girder was installed between pier 383 and pier 384.
This event occurred around two months after the commencement of the project connecting the capital Dhaka’s central Kamalapur railway station and Jessore. As a part of China-financed Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, this ongoing project is one of the most challenging construction tasks in Bangladesh’s history.
An Ambitious Infrastructure Project
In 2018, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Hasina inaugurated the 17-km elevated railway by revealing its foundation plaque at a ceremony in Munshiganj, on the outskirts of Dhaka.
The project aims to shorten the distance of 200-300 km between the Central Kamalapur railway station in Dhaka and the western districts of Bangladesh. Bangladeshi and Chinese government officials were present during the installation process in Keraniganj on the outskirts of Dhaka, among others.
The 169-km-long rail system project capital Dhaka’s central railway station Kamallinkingapur and western district Jessore will pass the longest 6.15-km Padma Bridge constructed by China Major Bridge Engineering Company Limited in Bangladesh.
China’s Vision for the 21st Century
Under the China G2G (government to government) arrangement and the consultation of the Engineering Corps of Bangladesh Army and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, China Railway Group Limited (CREC) has been a trusted partner of both China and Bangladesh in implementing the railway project mission.
However, completing the project involved fixing many problems. Steven Wong, project manager of CREC’s Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, said that they had to tackle countless difficulties since the beginning of this project, such as complicated geological factors, an adverse environment as well as land acquisition and the resettlement of the native population.
“CREC turned a piece of drawing into an erected span of real box girder within merely 68 days! This is the speed of CREC, the best Chinese contractor!”
According to Chinese Ambassador Li Jiming, the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project plays a significant role in regards to benefit for both China and Bangladesh.
For Bangladesh, it is a fast-track project and dream line which is supervised directly by the Office of the Prime Minister. In addition, for the first time in the history of the country, there is a direct rail link between southwest Bangladesh and the central region.
A Matter of Efficiency
A direct connection between the capital and outlying western Bangladesh would speed up travel and allow the population of Bangladesh to move from Dhaka to cities like Khulna and Darsana in the southwest in a much shorter time. Thousands of laborers in Bangladesh are working along this mega project’s entire 169 km route, and many local suppliers are participating in the supply chain.
While Bangladesh has benefited from this collaboration, China will also gain from the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project. China has come a long way in recent years and is expected to make a massive investment in Bangladesh over the next 10 to 15 years. It plans to invest in energy, transport, and communications sectors.
The BRI is Creating Changes
The massive Chinese investment is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, which targets on linking about 150 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe by building ports, pipelines, and road infrastructure projects to facilitate development in many of the world’s poorest countries.
The Padma Bridge is to be built on the Padma River, which is one of the three largest rivers in Bangladesh. The bridge is planned to be10 km long and 25 meters wide. In June 2016, China Railway Bridge Group won a $1.55 billion contract, making it responsible for building this bridge’s core structure. It is the Chinese company’s largest foreign-invested bridge project, according to Chinese estimates.
China will share its experience and expertise in its construction of infrastructure, with the Padma Bridgeacting as an example of this interchange. The project will also prove that the BRI is accessible, inclusive, and beneficial to all its participants, according to the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh.
This successful completion of the box girder occurred around two months after the commencement of the project connecting capital Dhaka’s central Kamalapur railway station and western district Jessore. In 2018, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Hasina inaugurated the 17-km elevated railway by revealing its foundation plaque at a ceremony in Munshiganj on the outskirts of Dhaka.