Of a ‘missing’ bridge and unkept promises
For 50 years, the residents of two neighboring upazilas, Keshabpur and Kalaroa, have been enduring the consequences of a missing bridge over the Kapotaksha river.
This river has separated the lives of approximately 40,000 people on either side. The absence of a bridge has severely impacted the daily routines and livelihoods of these communities, compelling them to endure the hardships of an inconvenient and risky mode of transportation.
Located eight kilometres west of Jashore's Keshabpur upazila town, Trimohani Hat stands at one end of the Kapotaksha river. On the opposite side lies Kashiadanga, an area situated in the Kalaroa upazila of Satkhira district.
In the past, individuals from both sides relied on boats to cross the river and access Trimohani Hat. However, due to encroachment and pollution, this essential mode of transportation ceased to exist two decades ago, leaving the communities stranded and isolated.
Over the years, the people on both sides of the Kapotaksha river have persistently voiced their grievances and called for urgent measures to address the pressing issue. However, despite repeated appeals to the authorities and local representatives, a solution to the longstanding problem has remained elusive.
Liaqat Ali, an unemployed resident, took matters into his own hands 15 years ago, as he rallied the residents of nearby villages, collecting bamboo, paddy, and monetary contributions to build a makeshift bamboo footbridge. Approximately 40,000 people from various areas, including Deya, Kashiadanga, Chalandia, Daulatpur, Chalimpur, Patulia, Gargaria, Bade Khordo, Mathpara, and Uludanga, rely on it daily, risking their safety as they cross the vulnerable structure using bicycles, motorcycles, easy bikes, and vans.
Among the bridge's users are students attending Keshavpur's Varandhali School, who also brave the dangers posed by this temporary crossing. Frustrated by the lack of a proper bridge and the inherent risks they face, local residents including Nazrul Islam, Rahim Uddin, Babu, Niranjan Dutta, and Abdul Malek have expressed their anger and disappointment to The Daily Star.
They lament the cycle of broken promises made by public representatives during election campaigns, where assurances are abundant, only to be forgotten once elected.
Dipankar Das, the head teacher of Varandali Secondary School in Keshabpur, attests to the enduring struggle, noting the numerous requests made by residents over the years. Despite assurances given at various times, the long-awaited bridge has yet to become a reality, he said.
Rabiul Islam Rabi, a trader at Trimohani Bazar, said the construction of a mere half-kilometre bridge would alleviate the burdensome additional distance of 20 kilometers that people currently have to travel using alternative routes.
Rabi also draws attention to the hazardous state of the dilapidated bridge wall.
"Its deteriorating condition poses a constant threat of collapse, further endangering the lives of those who rely on it for daily travel," he says.
THE AUTHORITIES' TAKE
Contacted, Keshabpur Upazila Engineer Saiful Islam said he has informed higher authorities regarding the pressing need for a bridge construction at the Kapotaksha river.
Meanwhile, the Upazila Nirbahi Officer, MM Arafat Hossain, said he his unaware of any bamboo bridge over the river, and assured that he would inform the Upazila Engineer and higher authorities to construct a permanent bridge.