Monday, October 14, 2019

National Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury receives Japan’s highest civilian award

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-03-07 00:32:48 BdST

Preeminent engineer Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury has received Japan’s highest civilian award in recognition of his “great contribution to economic development of Bangladesh through Japanese ODA projects”.

Ambassador Hiroyasu Izumi handed the ‘The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon’ ceremonially to Prof Choudhury, National Professor and Vice Chancellor of the University of Asia Pacific, on Wednesday at his residence in Dhaka.

He said Prof Choudhury has been contributing to many Japanese ODA projects in Bangladesh including the Jamuna Bridge construction project, the Chittagong Airport Development Project, the Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project, and the Disaster Management Project since 1983.

He is the ninth Bangladeshi to receive the Japanese order established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji of Japan.

Former finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith who was present at the ceremony said Prof Choudhury is a “pride” of Bangladesh.

“If anything (structural engineering) happens in the world whether it is in South America or North America or Europe, Jamil must invariably be there. He is a man who holds his flag very high in engineering gatherings,” Muhith said, adding that he is “extremely honoured” to have known him.

The ambassador expressed his “sincere” appreciation to Prof Choudhury for his longstanding contribution in enhancing bilateral relations between Japan and Bangladesh through his “devotion” to the infrastructure projects in Bangladesh.

“His work is an inspiration to me, and has been to the Japanese ambassadors who have served in Bangladesh before me,” he said, sharing the history of Jamuna Bridge in Bangladesh.

Jamuna Bridge that connects north Bengal with the capital is serving as one of the most important inter-regional transportation and logistics hubs where around 11,000 motor vehicles cross every day along with trains. Gas and electricity supply lines also go over it.

“Soon after Bangladesh attained independence in 1971, the new government publicly stated its intention to construct a bridge over the Jamuna, and in 1973 when the founding father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman visited Japan as the first nation’s prime minister. The prime minister requested our government’s assistance for the construction of Jamuna Bridge,” Ambassador Izumi said.

“And immediately from the same year 1973 to 1976, JICA initially funded a feasibility study with a Japanese consulting firm Nippon Koei.

“I was told “the bridge had been a big dream for those who waited for hours or sometimes for days to reach to the other side of land”, but there were a lot of hurdles to overcome.

“In fact, the initial JICA study (found) that the Jamuna project was not technically and economically viable.

“After a number of revived studies and budget reviews and after all the efforts of Bangladeshi experts and government officials, finally in 1985 the cabinet made a decision to take immediate steps in pursuit of the project to construct a “multipurpose bridge” which just didn't mean to deliver passengers on motor vehicles but also to deliver passengers on trains, and also, transmit natural gas and electricity.

“Professor Choudhury had been the Chairman of “Panel of Experts for Jamuna Bridge Project” since 1983 till the completion of the bridge construction in 1998 and he made a huge contribution to make the people’s bridge dream come true,” the Japanese ambassador said.

“Getting back to Jamuna Bridge, June last year marked the 20th anniversary, and for me as Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, this is a very moving moment.

“I have always had a special place in my heart for Professor Dr Choudhury who made the impossible possible in our history,” Izumi said, adding that Japan’s commitment to work with Bangladesh is “firm”.