Four concrete bridges built-in 2004-2005 to facilitate communication between East Narail and Kawalijan in Shibdhara beel of Narail union in Haluaghat upazila of Mymensingh remain out of use ever since their construction in the absence of connecting roads.
Gafur Mia, a local resident, said the bridges were built when he was a teenager. At present, he is the father of a child, but the connecting roads are yet to be constructed.
Speaking to The Business Standard, locals said they have given up the hope of using the bridges. They wish their next generations should be able to use the bridges.
Local farmer Abul Kalam said there is a lot of yield of paddy in the beel (vast waterbody) area. If there were roads, it would have been convenient for them to go to Haluaghat market, he said, adding now they have to go to the market in a roundabout way, which increases transportation costs.
The poor condition of roads in the area has also impacted the social life of the local people. Hashem Mia, a local youth, said people from other areas often discard marriage negotiations with people living in the Shibdhara beel area when they learn of the pathetic state of the communication system.
One of the bridges is 63 feet long while each of the other three is 45 feet long. Although World Vision built the bridges with the funding provided by donor USAID, the rest of the work was to be done by local government agencies.
Raju William Rosario, the area manager of World Vision in Mymensingh district, said, "The bridges were constructed for the benefit of the people of the area, especially for the transportation of students to school and for easy transportation of agricultural products through the beel. After completion, it was formally handed over to the local administration. The concerned government agency was supposed to build about two kilometres of connecting roads, but it has not happened yet, which is unfortunate."
According to the local government engineering department of Haluaghat, there are 987 kilometres of roads in the upazila. Work has been done on 62 kilometres of roads in the last five years.
However, the local government engineer's office has no information about the road on which these bridges are located.
Upazila Engineer Santunu Ghosh Sarkar said, "I have heard there are four such bridges. Those who built it did not contact us later. We will see what steps can be taken in this regard."
Haluaghat Upazila Project Implementation Officer Md Alal Uddin said they had partially filled some parts of the area last year under a job-creation project.
Meanwhile, Haluaghat Upazila Chairman Mahmudul Haque Sayem said, "Thousands of people from Kalianikanda, Charbangailya, Gopinagar, Thailayapara, East Narail, Machail, Kumuria, Khalpar, and surrounding areas of Narail union were excited about the construction of these bridges because it takes them a long time to cross the beel by boat. We are trying to figure out how to solve this problem."
In this context, Haluaghat Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Rezaul Karim said the matter has been taken seriously. Arrangements will be made for the construction of connecting roads in the next financial year.