March 16, 2019
Her Excellency, Sheikh Hasina, Honorable Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Distinguished Guests, Officials of the Government of Bangladesh, Representatives from Contractors.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalam-u-Alaikum, Subosokar and very Good Morning
Before starting my remarks, I would like to express my deep condolences to the victims' families of the Christ Church incident. I wish such a terror attack never happen. I really hope peace will come to the families and all soon.
Ami ekhane eshe Khub KhuSi HoYechi.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Kanchpur Bridge. I'd like to express my warm greetings, sincere thanks and congratulations to the Roads and Highways Department, Consultants and Japanese Contractors who completed the Kanchpur Bridge on time with a high standard of construction.
A bridge connects separate lands, and in doing so, it connects people. For many years, JICA has worked on bridge projects in Bangladesh, helping to bring people together.
One of the first project of JICA was for a bridge over the Jamun River. In 1973, responding to a request from Prime Minister Mujibur Rahman, JICA started a feasibility study for the Jamuna Bridge. Many Bangladeshi and Japanese engineers and professionals worked together, overcoming many challenges and obstacles, to construct this dream project which was completed in 1998.
The existing Meghna and Gumti Bridges are two more examples of bridges built with the support of Japanese grant aid in the 1990s.
The Kanchpur, Meghna and Gumti bridges connect Dhaka and Chittagong on National Highway 1, the most important economic corridor of Bangladesh. Dhaka-Chittagong can be compared to Tokyo-Osaka, which is Japan's most important corridor. The Dhaka-Chittagong Corridor is not only a vital corridor but also an important part of an Asian Highway which will improve regional connectivity.
In May 2014, in the Japan–Bangladesh Comprehensive Partnership, Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Hasina announced the "Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt" (BIG-B). The BIG-B is going to create an industrial belt along Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazaar and beyond. The new Kanchpur, Meghna and Gumti bridges will play vital roles in upgrading the Dhaka-Chittagong corridor and contribute to creating a new industrial zone in Mathabari about half the size of Singapore.
In talking about the Khanchipur, Meghna and Gumti project, I can't avoid touching on the 2016 July 1st incident which not only took the lives of many people, but also seriously affected the progress of the project. At that time, the Government of Bangladesh provided extraordinary support to ensure the security of the Japanese engineers and professionals deployed at the project site. I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the Government of Bangladesh for the support which was given to our activities. Although the security issue suspended work for 3 months, the Kanchpur bridge has been completed as scheduled. I feel proud of the fact that Obayashi Shimizu JFE engineering IHI infrastructure JV, collaborating closely with RHD officers, managed a timely completion without compromising quality. This is another good example of Japanese and Bangladeshi engineers and professionals working together to overcome challenges and obstacles to reach a successful outcome.
I would like to conclude my remarks by thanking all those who have contributed to the building of the 2nd Kanchpur Bridge and by encouraging all those working hard to ensure that the Meghna and Gumti bridges will be completed on time too.
May the friendship between Japan and Bangladesh continue to be warm and strong.
Shobaike Onek Donnobad. Thank you very much.