Ending a suspension of five years, construction work of the bridge on the Lohalia river will resume soon with a modified design accommodating an extended height clearance.
Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) on July 17 issued work orders to two construction firms in this regard.
The fresh work orders of Tk 47 crore will add on to the bridge’s previous construction cost of Tk 46 crore and raise its price tag to Tk 93 crore.
On October 1, 2014, when the work of the Lohalia bridge was put on hold over an objection raised about its inadequate height clearance, 55 percent work of the bridge was already completed.
The objection about the bridge’s height was raised by Payra Port Authority (PPA) via shipping ministry.
The LGED in 2008 initiated process for constructing a bridge on the Lohalia to connect thousands of inhabitants of Baufal, Dashmina and Galachipa upazilas with the Patuakhali district headquarters.
The construction of a 464-metre-long concrete bridge, on Patuakhali-Dashmina road via Baufal, commenced on November 9, 2011, with its completion scheduled for October 20, 2014. According to the original design, the height of the bridge was set at 9.57 metres, said sources at LGED in Patuakhali.
Till date, LGED has disbursed Tk 29.04 crore -- Tk 25.29 crore to the construction firm while Tk 3.75 crore for land acquisition.
Following the objection raised over the bridge’s height, LGED and the shipping ministry jointly decided to put the construction work on hold.
On July 17, 2016, the LGED and shipping ministry decided to raise the height of the bridge’s middle columns to 18.30 metres and place a steel span in between the concrete columns, the sources added.
In the absence of a bridge, thousands of locals have been facing immense sufferings as they are having to cross the Lohalia in small boats.
Rakibul Hasan, a student of Abdul Karim Mridha College and a resident of Lohalia village, said he would not have to cross the river in small dinghies every day if there were a bridge on the river.
Raisul Islam, an employee of a non-government organisation; and Khokon Mia, a teacher of a private college; echoed the same sentiment.
LGED Executive Engineer Tirthojit Roy said the construction work of the heightened bridge, with a steel span in the middle, is scheduled to be completed within a couple of years.