Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said she went for constructing the Padma Bridge with own resources defying the strong opposition from her finance minister and an adviser.
“My finance minister showed a strong dissent. He told me that it (bridge construction) couldn’t be done without the World Bank. My adviser had also told me the same,” she said while addressing a conference of the teachers of public universities at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).
The Prime Minister said when the World Bank withdrew the fund showing false allegations just to ensure that an individual got back the managing director post of Grameen Bank, she took it as a challenge and decided to construct the bridge with domestic resources.
“I told my minister and adviser why not we go for constructing the bridge with our own resources. If need be, we’ll change the design but we’ll do that with our own money, not from others,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said when the whole country was with her at that time, the Finance Minister and the adviser were against the decision. She, however, did not utter the name of the adviser.
“We’re now constructing the Padma Bridge with our own money. This single decision has changed Bangladesh’s image,” she said.
The Prime Minister said her sister Sheikh Rehana, son Sajeeb Wazed Joy, daughter Saima Wazed Putul had to undergo immense torture for this bridge. “But we never bowed down to anyone,” she said.
Recalling the miseries of those days, she said the World Bank sometimes came up with a proposal to fund the project again if a particular person would be arrested while sometimes it proposed suing another person. “When my Finance Minister and Adviser told me to do so, I listened to them for some time, but I was always against the arrest of anyone without having concrete evidence.”
Sheikh Hasina said she at that time asked the officials concerned to send letters to the World Bank seeking concrete evidence of what type of corruption took place there but they failed to provide any proof.
She said the country’s people have to learn how to keep their heads high all time. “We have to build our own country,” she said.
The Prime Minister also urged people to cast their votes in favour of her party in the next election to keep the development trend on. “If people think the wheel of development should continue, I think they’ll vote for boat and give us another chance to serve them,” she added.
The Awami League chief said her aim was to make the development activities visible as the Padma Bridge project did during her two consecutive tenures.
Briefly describing various programmes for the development of the education sector, she said it is not possible to make a country free from hunger and poverty without having an educated nation. “That’s why we always give priority to education,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina urged the authorities concerned to look into the quality and standard of education at private universities.
She mentioned that the government has put emphasis on modern technology-based education and vocational training.
Bangladesh University Teachers’ Federation President ASM Maksud Kamal chaired the programme where Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, University Grants Commission Chairman Prof Abdul Mannan and Education Secretary Sohrab Hossain also spoke.
At the outset of the programme, a one-minute silence was observed to show respects to the Liberation War martyrs.