In this photograph taken on September 13, 2018, Padma Bridge is pictured under construction at the Janjira point in Shariatpur. - The Padma Bridge will connect the south-west of the country to the northern and eastern regions. (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Engineers and workers from China and Bangladesh are working together to turn the “bridge of dreams”, the Padma Bridge connecting Bangladesh‘s south to its north, into reality.

Now the dream is coming true as it has entered a critical moment for the bridge construction undertaken by Chinese contractor China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The Padma Bridge is a multipurpose road-rail bridge across the Padma River which divides Bangladesh into two regions.

It has been a headache for both locals and ferry companies in Bangladesh to cross the torrential Padma River in rainy seasons, and they have always dreamed of having such a bridge built over the river.

The bridge project started in 2014 and has hired and trained more than 2,000 local employees, who work alongside their Chinese counterparts. Some Bangladeshi staff can even speak fluent Chinese, learning the language on the job.

The leader of Bangladeshi team told China Central Television (CCTV) in Chinese that the project gives him a sense of accomplishment and has already vastly improved his life.

He said he earned a salary of 3,600 taka (46 U.S. dollars) at first, but now he gets 30,000 taka (386 U.S. dollars).

The bridge is to open at the end of 2020. It will reduce the time of crossing the river from more than one hour to 15 minutes, which will save locals a lot of trouble and boost local development.

It will also enhance regional trade and collaboration along the Trans-Asian railway network and function as an important transport hub for the BRI.

The BRI, proposed by China in 2013, refers to the initiative to construct the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with the world.

The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is scheduled to open in Beijing in late April. Representatives from over 100 countries, including some 40 government leaders, have confirmed their attendance.

(Reuters)