A hidden danger: the bridge declared abandoned more than a decade ago is still in use
Although it was declared abandoned more than a decade ago, the bridge over the main canal of the Ganges-Kobadak (GK) irrigation project on the Kushtia-Pragpur road in Bheramara upazila has not yet been removed. and there is still no initiative to replace it with a new one. The vehicles crisscross the bridge, taking an immense risk.
According to the Kushtia Roads and Highways Department (RHD), the bridge was built in 1962. The bridge is 63.785 meters long and 10.25 meters wide. It was declared abandoned in 2009. Cracks appeared in part of the bridge in 2014. At that time, part of the crack was patchwork repaired.
When the concrete collapsed on the east side of the bridge in 2015, Kushtia RHD built a narrow steel Bailey Bridge over the damaged part of the bridge. Although the arrangement was supposed to be temporary, it is still in place. The bridge shakes when vehicles cross it.
Due to the narrowness of the bridge, two rows of vehicles cannot simultaneously cross the bridge.
Truck driver Motaleb Hossain said he felt the bridge shake as he climbed across the bridge.
“The bridge is a hidden danger and big accidents can happen at any time here, especially when heavy vehicles are crossing it,” the truck driver said.
Mahabul Hasan Rana, chairman of the District Truck and Tank Lorry Workers Union, said vehicles cannot cross the bridge smoothly. When one passes, the other must stand on the other side.
Bheramara Upazila Parishad chairman Akhtaruzzaman Mithu said the bridge is due to be rebuilt soon.
“How much risk will the vehicle take and for how long? The RHD should take immediate action in this regard,” he said.
Pius Kumar Sen, sub-divisional engineer of RHD in Kushtia, said the bridge construction project has not yet been approved.
He said they have tried to push through the bridge development project every fiscal year for the past six years, but never ending.
“I resubmitted the draft in March of this year. As far as I know, it may not pass,” the official said.
Sakirul Islam, the executive engineer of Kushtia RHD, said the bridge project has been submitted to the Department of Roads through the Khulna RHD area. From there he was sent to the ministry.
He said he’s probably not on the department’s first selection and checklist.
However, efforts are being made to include it in the list, he added.