A bridge on Sohagi-Atharabari road in Ishwarganj upazila is under tremendous risk of collapsing as earth from both sides of its approach roads has been eroding away.
The erosion is apparently being caused by rising water in Bogaputa canal, over which the bridge -- narrower than the canal's width -- was built about 28 years ago.
The authorities concerned should take immediate steps for saving the vital bridge before a disastrous accident happens, said locals.
Thousands rely on the bridge to transport agricultural goods, the mainstay of the rural economy, in Bogaputa, Sairsha, Sohagi, Bekuarchar, Morichputa, Momrispur, Jigatola, Bhalkapur, Bhalukber and Daribri villages in the upazila.
Ever since the authorities prohibited plying of heavy vehicles on the bridge, locals now have to walk an additional 15 to 20 kilometres to reach different markets such as Rayer Bazar, Sohagi Bazar, Ishwarganj Bazar and Moheshpur Bazar, they also said.
Mozammel Haque, a farmer of Bogaputa village, said he had been making a living from agriculture without a hitch, but after the bridge was declared risky, has been facing extreme difficulty in selling his produce to local markets.
Giasuddin Ahmed, a fish farmer from the same area, said transport cost now has multiplied, diminishing his profits.
When water started to rise in the canal a month ago, they informed it to the engineer concerned, but he did not take any step to protect the old bridge, claimed Mofazzal Hossain Shuvo, organising secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra League's (BCL) Sohagi union unit.
Now that bus, truck or other heavy vehicles cannot cross the bridge due to risk of collapse, only small vehicles like auto-rickshaws, motorbikes and rickshaw-vans are left as only means of transport for locals, he added.
Mahbub Alam Shamim, president of BCL Sohagi union unit, said with water level on the rise due to monsoon, the bridge is under a greater risk.
He also said that the authorities should take urgent steps to save the bridge.
While talking to this correspondent, Sheikh Mofazzal Haque, sub-assistant engineer of Roads and Highways Department in Kishoreganj, confirmed that the 26-metre long bridge, constructed in 1993, is at risk due to subsiding of earth from its approach roads.
Stronger seasonal water current in the canal has been causing the earth to subside and they already placed wood logs to stop further damage to the approach roads.
Also, they started to dump sand-filled bags in the cavity caused by the erosion so the approach road can again withstand the pressure of all sorts of vehicles that need to cross the bridge, he also said.
After this correspondent conveyed the situation to Ishwarganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer Zakir Hossain, he said he would visit the site soon.