A portion of the First Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge, also known as Postogola Bridge, was damaged as the crew of a BIWTA salvage ship did not lower the crane installed on it, according to Roads and Highways Department.
"The bridge is of standard height. Nothing would have happened if the crane was lowered at its minimum height while the ship was crossing under the bridge. This has happened due to carelessness," Sabuj Uddin Khan, additional chief engineer (Dhaka zone) of RHD, told The Daily Star yesterday.
The RHD, through the road transport and bridges ministry, would write to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) asking it to take actions against those responsible for causing the damage, he said.
The official said they conducted a preliminary assessment and found the bridge to be "repairable". The RHD will only allow light vehicles to use the bridge by setting a barrier to two out of its four lanes. However, no heavy vehicle will be allowed to access the bridge until further notice.
Refuting the allegations, the BIWTA said the crane was lowered at its minimum height. It blamed the "low height" of the bridge" for the damage.
The RHD on Monday evening restricted the movement of traffic on one of the four lanes of the busy bridge that connects Dhaka with southern districts. The bridge was totally closed to traffic at 9:00pm.
The damage was caused to the Bridge on Monday when Prottoy, a salvage ship of BIWTA, was heading towards Sadargahat launch terminal from Narayanganj to rescue the sunken launch, Morning Bird, in the Buriganga.
The ship could not cross under the bridge after hitting the structure and the vessel was anchored nearby. As it could not reach the spot, the Morning Bird was salvaged yesterday morning using an alternative method.
Sabuj Uddin Khan said their experts visited the bridge and found one of its girders damaged badly and another partially. However, the real picture of the damage could be known after a scan of the bridge is completed today with a special device, he added.
The RHD official said it was not possible for them to tell now how much money would be needed for the repair.
Talking to reporters at Sadarghat launch terminal, BIWTA Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq yesterday said they have four salvage ships which are normally kept at accident-prone spots so that those can be mobilised promptly.
"Yes, we have a failure as we could not bring the salvage ship here. But we have carried out the rescue operation using alternatives ways," he said.
Talking to this newspaper, Sadeq, however, said the crane of the salvage ship was lowered at its minimum height when it hit the bridge. He said the ship could not cross under the bridge due to rise in water level of the river in the rainy season.
"Actually, the master of the salvage ship wanted to reach the accident spot as early as possible. So, he might have made the mistake," he said.
He said they have already raised the issue of some 13 low-height bridges hampering the planned operation of circular water buses around the capital.
Talking to this correspondent at 8:00pm yesterday, Golam Mostafa, executive engineer (Munshiganj division) of RHD, said they were setting up barriers to some lanes of the bridge. He said they might open the bridge to traffic on a limited scale after 10:00pm.