Bangladesh inaugurates its longest bridge

During the construction of the bridge, Hasina rejected criticism from the political opposition led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

The opposition criticized Hasina’s government for increasing the budget threefold over the years and accused authorities of corruption. Hasina rejected the allegations.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina celebrated saturday the inauguration of Bangladesh’s longest bridge, which took eight years to build amid delays over political conflicts and corruption allegations.

The 6.51-kilometer (4.04-mile) long structure that runs through the Padma River cost about $3.6 billion and was paid for with funds from the country, after the World Bank and other global lending agencies declined to fund the project following a corruption scandal involving Canadian construction company SNC-Lavalin.

The bridge will cut the distance between the capital Dhaka and Bangladesh’s second-largest port, Mongla, by 100 kilometers (62 miles). It will be open to the public from Sunday.

“The bridge belongs to the people of Bangladesh. It’s a compendium of our passion, creativity, courage, endurance and perseverance,” Hasina said at a ceremony in Mawa, about 31 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Dhaka.

Although the bridge is not a direct part of the Belt and Road Initiative — China’s project for financing infraestructura_, it was built by the China Major Bridge Engineering Company Ltd. and beijing considers it a milestone for cooperation with Bangladesh, according to a statement from Chinese Ambassador Li Jiming.

The China Railway Group has said that the Padma Bridge will subsequently feature a rail network that will connect with other Belt and Road projects, and will represent an important link between China and a pan-Asian train network.

Experts say the construction of the structure, in which more than 4,000 engineers participated, represented a major technical challenge.

The underwater piles have a depth of 122 meters (400 feet), a world record, and require 41 pillars.

In some parts of the river, the volume of water flow is the second largest in the world, behind only the Amazon.