Padma Bridge injects fresh blood in southern economy

From shiny new factories, increased profits, more job opportunities to a slew of new tourists, the Padma Bridge has already begun to transform the Southwest’s landscape in many different ways while also giving a boost to the Port of Mongla.

On the industrial side, Barishal will also see a number of firsts, including its first-ever clothing factory and a bottled water purification factory coming up shortly after the inauguration of the much-anticipated bridge.

The garment factory will start operations in Barishals Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) in December, initially with two lines. It is intended to create jobs for around two hundred people.

Touhidul Islam, owner of Nirmak Designs Garments, said the plan is to have 12 lines employing 1,000 people.

The initial investment of Tk60 crore also comes with risks.

“There are no raw materials for clothing in Barishal. I have to pay additional transportation cost to bring the raw materials from Dhaka, which will increase the production cost,” he said.

There’s also a shortage of skilled workers, but Touhidul is optimistic the risk will pay off.

If industry in Barishal gets a gas pipeline, a raw material factory could also be set up, he said, adding that some have already expressed interest.

Elsewhere in Barishal, a factory to purify bottled water is being built, with Mohini Mineral Water already beginning to test its water ahead of distribution to southern markets in November.

“I started the factory because the product has good demand in the area, but there is no such factory here. It is very difficult to establish a brand that stays in one region but I would like to send my product to Dhaka now as it has become easier to do so,” said Jamal Hossain, owner of Mohini Mineral Water.

As more factories turn to Barishal, land is being grabbed quickly as well.

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“I have sold five acres of land along the Dhaka-Barishal riverside highway. The company will set up a cement factory there,” said Saju, t-owner of Dhanshiri Developer in Barishal.

“I have prepared 149 lots at Barishals BSCIC, which will be distributed to medium-sized factories or industries. The plot has good demand now, but we are looking for some middle industries,” said Jasim Uddin Haider, Deputy Commissioner of Barishal.

Though companies have started buying land, the lack of gas means production hasn’t started yet. Many are waiting for natural gas from Bhola.

Keeping up with Khulna

With easy communications and low transportation costs, the Padma Bridge has also breathed new life into various economic activities in the Khulna region, including increasing exports and imports through the Port of Mongla.

According to the Mongla Port Authority (MPA), around 12.69 lakh tons of goods including refurbished cars, gas, fertilizers, clinker, coal, machinery, oil etc. passed through the port in July and August after the Padma Bridge was inaugurated imported June 25th.

Before the bridge was built, an average of five lakh tons of goods were imported per month. However, in the past two months, more than six lakh tons of goods have been imported on average.

Many companies have also started using the port to export clothing products, saving both costs and time.

Md Makruzzaman, deputy secretary (board and public relations) of the MPA, told The Business Standard: “As of July 28, 27 garment factories in Dhaka have been exporting products including children’s clothing, jerseys, cardigans, T-shirts and pants to Poland from this port . Previously, no clothing goods were exported through this port.”

He said the Padma Bridge reduced the distance between the port of Mongla and Dhaka by 170km and from Chattogram by 260km.

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Rear Admiral Mohammad Musa, Chairman of the Mongla Port Authority, said: “Mongla Port has been transformed into a world-class port through the concerted efforts of the current government. The capacity of the port has been increased many times over. Exporters and importers have become more interested in using the port after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge.”

At the same time, the possibility of importing cars through this port has increased.

Ahsanur Rahman Arju, Chairman of Bangladesh Standing Committee on Refurbished Vehicles Ahsanur Rahman Arju said: “Earlier, some of the cars imported from Japan were unloaded at Chittagong port and came to Mongla port. At that time 500 to 700 vehicles were brought to the port of Mongla. But the Padma Bridge has made communication with Dhaka easier. That’s why we no longer unload cars at the port of Chittagong.”

He said: “It now takes 3-4 hours to drive from Mongla Port to Dhaka by car. It used to take 6-7 hours.”

In Satkhira, too, the land port of Bhomra is seeing increasing business.

Bhomra Port C&F Agent Association Secretary-General MaqsoodAlam Khan said after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, Bhomra Port’s import and export has increased. In the past, 50-70 truckloads of goods were exported every day. It is currently 120-150 truckloads, plus 400-420 truckloads for imports.

For merchants, it’s goods galore.

Motaleb Ali, a vegetable wholesaler from Sonadanga Truck Stand, Khulna, said: “Today it takes just five hours to send a truckload of goods from Khulna to Dhaka. It used to take more than 12 hours.

“Where it used to cost Tk15,000 to send goods from Khulna to Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar, it has now come down sharply. Although the increase in fuel prices drove up transportation costs, without the bridge such a price increase would have been unbearable,” he said.

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“At least 10,000 trucks transport goods on the Khulna-Dhaka route every day. A truck used to make one trip per day on this route, but now at least two trips per day are possible,” said AmzadHowlader. a local truck driver.

According to the Department of Fisheries, Khulna Division, around 145-160 tons of fresh fish are shipped to Dhaka from Khulna, Satkhira and Bagerhat.

“Fish transportation has become easier with the launch of the Padma Bridge,” said Jaydev Pal, Khulna District Fisheries Officer.

On the other hand, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension, Khulna, around 600 tons of various agricultural products from Khulna, Satkhira and Bagerhat are brought to the capital every day.

Easy road communication, reduced domestic flights

As the Padma Bridge has improved road connectivity, more and more people are turning away from domestic flights.

Md Bulbul, Deputy Manager of SohagParibahan, said: “It used to take six to 10 hours to get to Dhaka by road as cars in MawaGhat were stuck in traffic for hours. As a result, many people traveled to Dhaka by plane through Jashore Airport. Now it takes three to four hours to reach Dhaka from Khulna.

As bus travel pleases more customers, airlines are staring at losses.

Sabbir Hossain, Station Manager, US Bangla, Khulna said: “Following the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the number of passengers from Khulna-Jashore to Dhaka has decreased. As a result, the number of flights was reduced by 50%. “

The impact of Padma Bridge is also being felt in Shariatpur where 200 new buses have been introduced on the Dhaka-Shariatpur route.

Our Satkhira correspondent also contributed to this report

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