More than one and a half year after the main construction work began, a 150-metre beam weighing around 32 tonnes has been installed on Saturday between pillars 37 and 38 as Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obdaidul Quader looked on.
Quader told the media in Munshiganj that over 47 percent of the project has been completed.
The 6.15-kilometre bridge will have 42 pillars, including two on the banks.
The construction of the bridge kicked-off in December 2015. The government expects to finish the project by late next year.
The minister said that the installation of beams between pillars will be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after she returns from the US.
“But the process has started as we don’t want the construction to be halted, even for a moment.”
Apart from connecting the country’s southern region with the west, the bridge will also function as part of the proposed Asian Highway route.
A 1.23 percent increase in Bangladesh’s GDP is expected after the bridge becomes operational, according to government estimates.
The project was initiated in 1998 when the Awami League was in power, but it went into limbo when the party lost the general election in 2001.
When the AL returned to power in 2009, it revived the initiative. Though the World Bank initially proposed funding much of the project, Bangladesh withdrew the funding request after the global lender raised a stink over alleged corruption.
The Hasina administration, however, remained steadfast and decided to go ahead with the project using Bangladesh’s own resources.
In 2014, China’s Major Bridge Engineering Company Ltd and Sinohydro Corporation Ltd were awarded contracts for the construction of the main bridge and the river training work.
To improve links between Dhaka and the bridge, a four-lane highway from Dhaka’s Postogola to Munshignaj’s Mawa and a 13-km flyover from the capital’s Shantinagar to Dhaka-Mawa Highway will be constructed, according to the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry.