Bangladesh's longest bridge stands over Padma River on the outskirts of Dhaka on Saturday. AP
The 6.51 kilometre bridge spanning the Padma River cost an estimated $3.6 billion and was paid for with domestic funds after the World Bank and other global lending agencies declined to finance the project following a graft scandal involving a Canadian construction company.
The bridge, which will open to the public on Sunday, will slash the distance between the capital, Dhaka, and Bangladesh’s second largest seaport, Mongla, by 100 kilometres.
"This bridge is not just bricks, cement, iron, and concrete," Hasina told a crowd of nearly a million people who had gathered along the river's banks for its opening ceremony. "This bridge is our pride, a symbol of our capacity, strength and dignity," the leader added.
Sheikh Hasina (4R) inaugurates the 6.15km long Padma Bridge at Mawa point in Munshiganj. AFP
But the project was also burdened by other, more vexing associations even before work began. Bangladesh financed the $3.87 billion project itself after corruption allegations saw the World Bank and other lenders withdraw finance.
Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin was banned from bidding on World Bank projects for a decade after it was accused of bribing officials over the project.
Prosecutors in Canada eventually declined to pursue corruption charges against company executives after a court ruled some wiretap evidence against them was inadmissible.
Engineers said building challenges for the project were "immense" as siltation left the bottom of the Padma river unstable, making it difficult to place spans and helping blow out the bridge's finish date by four years.
And in 2019, eight people were killed in vigilante lynchings sparked by social media rumours of children being kidnapped and sacrificed as offerings for the bridge's construction.
More than 30 others were attacked in connection with the rumours, mostly spread on Facebook, that said human heads were needed to help finish the project.
Despite its troubles, the 6.2-kilometre road and rail link has long been signposted as one of the most significant endeavours of Hasina's tenure.
Local media reported breathlessly on minor construction milestones, such as the completion of one of its 41 concrete spans. Major roads across Dhaka were festooned with lights, lasers and decorations to mark Saturday's inauguration.Agencies
Modi’s two-day visit, his first foreign trip since the coronavirus pandemic began last year, will include taking part in commemorations marking 100 years since the birth of independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In 1998 Abdul Majed was sentenced in absentia to death along with a dozen other army officers over the murders. Bangladesh's Supreme Court upheld the verdict in 2009 and five of the killers were executed several months later.
In an interview with Reuters partner ANI, aired ahead of her visit to India on Monday, Hasina said that Bangladesh's economy remained strong despite the impact of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war.
Shocked motorists and law enforcement watched in horror as the Nissan Altima was launched 120 feet (37 meters) down the highway in Lowndes County, according to police report on the May 24 crash.
The total resident population is up 34.2 per cent since 2010 — an increase of 8.2 million people, of whom 4.8 million are Saudi nationals. Among Saudis, 63 per cent of the population is below the age of 30.
In the first quarter of 2023, the Ministry of Economy imposed fines worth Dhs65.9 million on 137 companies operating in the UAE’s designated non-financial business or professions (DNFBP) sector.
"These provocative and dangerous maneuvers are a source of problems for maritime security," said Mao Ning, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stressing that "the United States must immediately stop these dangerous provocations."