A bridge in Chittagong's Chandanaish upazila sagged just two days before its inauguration last month.
The bridge on Dhopachhari canal also developed many cracks, leaving several thousand local people in the remote hilly area to strugge to go outside as they have no alternative road.
The construction firm claimed strong currents of rainwater from nearby hills eroded soil from the pile base of the bridge, causing the damage.
The 60-feet-long bridge was built under the Bridge/Culvert Construction Project of the disaster management department at a cost of around Tk 57 lakh. It was scheduled to be opened to traffic on June 15.
Visiting the area on Monday, this correspondent found that people put up makeshift wooden platforms against the anchors of the bridge to cross it.
Local farmer Shah Alam said people of Shantir Bazar, Monglar Mukh, Mayanai, Uttar Dhopachhari, Tripura Para and Naikongchhari use the way to go to the upazila town and nearby upazilas as the other sides of the area is surrounded by hills.
“During the rainy season, locals cross the canal wading through chest-deep water. We had expected that the bridge would end our sufferings. But now it seems that sufferings are far from over.”
Abul Hossain, a grocery shop owner, crossed the canal carrying his goods on his shoulder. He said during the Ramadan he had to spend an additional Tk 2,000 for hiring two rickshaw-vans to carry goods to his shop.
“We are now counting extra bucks every day for carrying goods,” he added.
Siraj Miah, owner of a lemon orchard in Uttar Dhopachhari, said they could not take lemons to the wholesale markets in Dohazari and Satkania as the bridge remains damaged.
“Hundreds of jackfruits are also rotting in local gardens,” he told The Daily Star.
Md Arif, owner of construction firm AK Syndicate Construction Company, claimed they had completed the construction work following the conditions set out in the work order.
He said the bridge was built upon pilings driven five feet into the ground.
“The bridge was damaged after strong currents of rainwater from nearby hills eroded the soil from the pile base of the bridge,” he said.
Jahirul Islam, upazila project implementation officer, claimed there was no technical problem in the construction work.
Chandanaish Upazila Nirbahi Officer Lutfor Rahman formed a four-member committee to probe the incident. The committee is supposed to submit a report by today.
“If the committee finds any corruption or negligence in the construction work, we will recommend punishment for those responsible,” said the UNO.