Hasina inaugurates Payra Bridge, connecting Kuakata with the rest of Bangladesh

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has inaugurated the Payra bridge in Patuakhali’s Lebukhali, establishing road links between the coastal city of Kuakata and the rest of Bangladesh.

Hasina also laid the foundation for upgrading the Dhaka-Sylhet and Sylhet-Tamabil highways to six lanes via video link from Ganabhaban on Sunday.

As the Payra Bridge opened to traffic after nine years of construction work, the prime minister expressed her regret at being unable to attend the inauguration ceremony in person and cross the bridge by car due to the pandemic.

The 1.5 km long four-lane bridge, costing about Tk 15 billion to build, opens the doors to uninterrupted connectivity between Kuakata and the rest of the country, including Dhaka. The government hopes the bridge will cut the travellers’ sufferings and save time and money.

People can now travel to Kuakata from Barishal without having to ride a ferry. A direct road link to Dhaka will remain a dream until the Padma Bridge comes on stream.

Chinese contractor Longjian Road and Bridge Company constructed the bridge, funded by the Bangladesh government and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

The constructors used extradosed cable-stayed, the same technology used to build Shah Amanat Bridge on the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram, for the Payra Bridge.

The height of the new bridge is 18.3 metres from the river water level and it will not hamper river traffic, project director Abdul Halim said.

To keep the water flow normal, only one large pier has been set up in the middle of the river. Cables have been used to keep the bridge up from the main pier and two at both ends.

It has a health monitor that will keep it safe from earthquakes, lightning strikes and other natural calamities. The system will sound an alarm automatically if a vehicle with loads beyond the bridge’s limit gets on it.

Initiated nearly a decade ago, the Payra Bridge project’s deadline was extended from five to nine years. The cost also saw a threefold increase.

The bridge is expected to boost trade and commerce in the southern part of the country as well as accelerate the economic activities of Payra port.