Bridge collapses before use

A concrete bridge in Chala union under Harirampur upazila, which collapsed in last year's flood, was of no use to the villagers as it was built without approach roads on either side.

Upazila Project Implementation Officer (PIO) Monirul Islam Sobhon said his office implemented the construction work of the bridge at Gopalpur village under bridge/culvert programme 2012-2013 of the Department of Disaster Management at a cost of Tk 19.79 lakh.

The 26-feet-long and 14-feet-wide bridge was constructed on the northern side of Diabai Bailey bridge by local contractor Dipak Kumar Sarker. However, Dipak said the work was originally given to a contractor of Dhaka by the local lawmaker Mamtaz Begum. He built the bridge under a sub-contract from the contractor, Dipak said.

People of Gopalpur and Khodanawda villages said construction of the bridge was completed in 2013, but it could not be used as no approach road was built on either side of it. After lying unused for four years, the bridge collapsed in last year's flood, much to the suffering of the people of the two villages, they added.

They expressed their anger over the collapse of the bridge before it was used as the government spent a huge amount of money for constructing it for the people. The contractor was able to do sub-standard work due to the lack of supervision by the authorities, they alleged.

The villagers said more than 500 families of Gopalpur and Khodanawda villages earn their living through agriculture, but they cannot market their produce in time due to the absence of a bridge.

Villagers face serious problems taking patients to hospital, they said.

They said the only way to go to the markets, educational institutions, hospitals, and union parishad and upazila headquarters is the two-kilometre long Diabari-Gopalpur-Khodanawda earthen road.

The people of the area were very happy that a bridge was built on this road, but they could not use it as there were no approach roads at the two ends of the bridge, they said. The bridge collapsed in the flood last year, they added.

Chala Union Parishad (UP) Chairman Shamsul Alam Biswas said he informed the department concerned about the bridge, but they did not take any action. However, a decision has been taken by the Upazila Project Implementation Office to auction the broken bridge, he said.

The contractor said he had made the bridge properly, adding that there is nothing to do if the flood broke it.

The PIO said the disaster management department had been notified immediately after the bridge was damaged by the flood. A month ago, the project director and sub-divisional engineer visited the spot, but have not given any instructions on repair or reconstruction of the bridge, he added.

After the concrete bridge collapsed, people of the two villages urged the UP chairman to make a bamboo bridge there, which he did not do.

The villagers themselves made a bamboo bridge, but it is only for pedestrians.

The villagers said they made the bridge for Tk 30,000 by collecting money from the ordinary people of the village. Those who could not pay the money gave their labour, they said.

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