147 Barguna bridges lie unrepaired
As many as 147 iron bridges out of 200 have been unusable in Barguna for a long time due to a lack of maintenance and repair, causing immense suffering to thousands of locals.
More than 200 such bridges were constructed over canals in the district under "Light vehicles transport project" of Local Government Engineering Department in 1997-98 fiscal year, LGED sources said.
But 147 of those bridges have become dilapidated as those have not been taken care of since their construction. Among the damaged bridges, 28 are in Sadar, 18 in Betagi, 42 in Bamna, 7 in Taltali, 22 in Amtali and 30 in Patharghata upazilas.
Cyclones like Sidr, Aila, Mahasen, Bulbul, Yas and Ampan caused damage to the bridges. Besides, various parts of those bridges were stolen. Parts of many of these bridges have collapsed and locals use those with great risk.
In 2018, the bridge over Subandhi canal collapsed near Locha Government Primary School in Amtali. It has been unusable since then.
Dulal Mia, a local resident, said, "Although this bridge collapsed several years ago, no steps were taken to repair it."
Although students and pedestrians use it at risk, the vehicular movement has totally been stopped.
Similarly, the bridge over Chawra canal in Amtali broke down in June, 2021.
Another bridge in Mahishdanga village of Amtali has caved in and stayed in this state for two years. The residents walked on the bridges with risk.
Sumon Mallik from the area said at least 20,000 people of 10 villages -- including students of eight educational institutions -- are suffering due to the bridge collapse. To minimise the suffering, locals have made a makeshift bamboo bridge at that place; but it has become fragile now.
Asaduzzaman Mallik, chairman of Haldia Union Parishad in Amtali, said, "In my area, five bridges have been broken. People cannot move through those."
Locals' suffering will not end until the bridges are rebuilt, he said.
Moreover, the iron bridge near Haldia Bazar has cracked.
Saidul Pada, a local trader of the market, said thousands of people cross this bridge every day. At present, it is impassable and may collapse at any time.
In Sadar upazila, an iron bridge has been damaged for two years.
Nazrul Islam, a resident of Bibakchattar area in the upazila, said a portion of the bridge has broken in the middle. However, hundreds of auto-rickshaws and motorcycles are still plying this bridge every day due to lack of an alternative path, he said.
Contacted, Supriya Mukherjee, executive engineer of LGED in Barguna, said, "Initiatives have been taken to rebuild these bridges. I have spoken to senior officials about the issue several times. I hope, tenders for these bridges may be offered by the end of this year."