Unfit bridge not replaced in 9 years

The officials of the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) completed their task with the declaration of a 65-metre-long bridge unsafe to use. However, after nearly nine years have passed the department is still waiting to repair the bridge which is crucial for the livelihoods and lives of tens of thousands.

About ten thousand residents of Chhoto Baishdia union in Rangabali upazila rely heavily on the bridge on Gohinkhali canal, since it is their sole method to get in touch with headquarters for the upazila as well as Baherchar Bazar -- the largest market, not just in Rangabali Union, but the entire upazila.

The bridge along Gohinkhali canal is crucial for more than two hundred students who must daily cross it for transportation to and from their educational schools located in Rangabali town.

Locals claimed they had to make use of logs of wood to replace the majority of the iron pillars that were deteriorating on the bridge with a width of two metres. It was built using concrete slabs on an iron structure in the year 1990.

The majority of the slabs have already collapsed, the residents have laid planks wood over the holes in order in order to allow them to traverse the canal.

Based on data from the LGED offices in the region the bridge was declared unfit for use in the year 2012.

However, the locals continue crossing the bridge because they have no alternative to cross the canal.

On a trip to the area the correspondent noticed that this bridge was unsafe to walk across on foot and even with any kind of vehicle. The possibility of a major accident could occur at any moment because the bridge is unstable when pedestrians walk across it.

Salahuddin Bayati, a grocer at Baherchar Bazar, said lots of people from further afield such as the Chhoto Baishdia union, used to crowd the weekly market on Mondays and on Thursdays.

However, their business is declining since fewer residents, who live across the canal, want to go through the hassle of getting to the market after an 1.5-kilometre deviation.

Rangabali Union Parishad (UP) Chairman Saiduzzaman MAMUN said that he repeatedly contacted authorities for the construction of an additional bridge over the canal however, he was unable to get any response.

ABM Abdul Mannan Chairman of Chhoto Baishdia UP, said that he had already provided the LGED about the condition of the bridge, in writing however, they have yet to construct a bridge that is essential to trade, agriculture and education for people who live between the two sides of Gohinkhali canal.

When I inquired Engineer Mizanul Kabir of LGED in Rangabali upazila told us that they have already submitted a proposal to their higher authority for an additional bridge along the canal. Construction would begin once the plan is approved.

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