Action borne out of frustration: Locals repair Khulna road
For 10 years, the MA Bari Link Road, adjacent to Sonadanga bus stand in Khulna city, has remained completely unnavigable.
There's a lot of reasons behind the sorry state of the bypass road, only a little more than two kilometres away from the Joybangla mor.
Deprived of more than a decades' renovation, its bricks and stones have come off, while innumerable potholes keep the road -- and adjacent trees and buildings -- engulfed with dust during dry seasons and muddy in monsoon.
But it all comes down to the city authorities' sheer indifference, and lack of foresight and responsibility, locals said.
Even though vehicles cannot travel on the road, circumstances compel around 2,000-3,000 residents and traders of the area to traverse it, risking accidents. Even though it does not have a footpath, it houses at least 300 business establishments on both sides.
"Local traders and pedestrians have to plough through knee-deep mud every time it rains a little," said Sumon Ahmed, director of Takbir Motors, situated on the road.
"We're faced with huge losses year-round. Customers don't want to come here for obvious reasons," he said.
Buses heading to 18 districts -- including Dhaka, Barishal, Bagerhat and Satkhira -- from Sonadanga bus terminal used to go through the bypass road. But with the decrepit condition of the road, none has plied on it for at least two years, said Zakir Hossain Biplob, secretary of Khulna Motor Workers' Union.
But after sitting through all these years' of misery, affected locals and traders have had enough. Last week, they took matters into their own hands -- they decided to band together and initiate repair works by themselves.
With around 30 workers, the repair work started on Wednesday.
The entire initiative is being funded by a group of 500 people, mainly traders from the area, but also some residents.
Requesting anonymity, one of the organisers told this correspondent they are using sand and brick chips on a one km-stretch of the road. They have also hired a roller to crush the materials into size, so that the road regains at least some of its navigability.
He said though they understand this is a temporary fix, there's little else to do given the authorities' negligence to respond to their innumerous requests.
The four authorities -- Khulna Development Authority (KDA), Khulna City Corporation (KCC), Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and district administration -- under whose domain the road falls said lack of co-ordination between them is the main issue.
According KCC, it has custody over 780m of the road. Officials said it comes down to the lack of co-ordination between KCC and KDA.
Mashiuzzaman Khan, executive engineer of KCC, told The Daily Star they will call tenders for works on their portion of the road very soon.
Meanwhile, KDA Chief Engineer Kazi Md Sabirul Alam said, "KDA doesn't have funds to maintain the road, so we handed over a part of it to KCC. We also issued a letter to LGED to maintain rest of the road."
"KCC recently took the responsibility, but LGED didn't inform us about this," Sabirul said, adding that another letter will be sent to LGED soon.
Meanwhile, KDA had completed the road on June 2013 at a cost of Tk 20.48 crore, said sources at the organisation.
In December of that year, KDA issued letters to KCC and LGED, directing KCC to take charge of the eastern part of the road and LGED the western part.
However, no renovation or repair work has been done since its construction.