Sudden collapse of an approach road on both sides of a bridge in flash floods has left about one lakh people in great sufferings.
The residents of four unions under Debiganj upazila of Panchagarh use the bridge frequently for their day-to-day activities. The bridge, over the Rangapani river in Khayerbagan area, connects Bhaulaganj and Debiganj.
People residing in Chilahati, Tepriganj, Debiganj and Shaldanga unions are now taking a 15-kilometre-long detour to reach the upazila headquarters.
The approach road to the bridge was washed away on Friday by onrush of water from upstream, caused by incessant rain in the past few days, said Mohammad Samsuzzaman, executive engineer of Water Development Board (WDB) in Panchagarh.
The river might have changed course, leading to the destruction of the approach road, he also said.
During a visit in Khayerbagan area on Friday afternoon, this correspondent witnessed the extent of the damage to the road on both sides of the bridge and gushing of strong current in the river.
Locals said water in the river started swelling since Wednesday night. After heavy downpour began on Thursday morning, strong current started to erode the approach road on both sides of the bridge.
By Friday, about 40 to 50 feet of the road, on both sides, along with electric poles and roadside trees disappeared in the river, they added.
Sheikh Farid, from Ramganj Bilashi village in Tepriganj union, said for over 30 thousand inhabitants of Chilahati and Tepriganj unions, it was the only means of communications with the upazila headquarters.
Chilahati Union Parishad Chairman Kamal Mostaharul Islam said people of Chilahati and Tepriganj are dependent entirely on the road for their day-to-day activities, while the people of Debiganj and Shaldanga unions also use the road often.
About one lakh frequent users of the road will now have to travel an additional 15 kilometres to reach the upazila town and the distance could be fatal during a health emergency of a resident, said Golam Rahman, chairman of Tepriganj Union Parishad.
Contacted over phone, Prattoy Hasan, Debiganj upazila nirbahi officer, said they deployed village police at the spot to avert accidental damage to life and property.
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan visited the spot on Saturday and directed the authorities concerned to take immediate steps for the restoration of the road.
Mohammad Samsuzzaman, the executive engineer of WDB in Panchagarh, said after water recedes in the river, they would assess damage to both the road and the bridge and start repair work accordingly.