Local people at Gauripur in Mymensingh have started constructing a bridge over the River Surya on their own as, they said, the local administration and political leaders did not pay heed to their pleas for a bridge here year after year.
To construct the bridge, they have raised a fund, no engineers have been engaged and the tools used in the work are nothing but choppers, spades, axes and wires.
The estimated cost of the bridge construction - using bamboo, wood, concrete pillars and steel - is Tk7 lakh. The river is about 250 feet wide and the major part of the bridge will be 190 feet while there will be connecting roads on both sides.
On one side of the river are Maoha Union, Naya Nagar, Bausali Para of Gauripur and on the other is Dugia of Bishura Union of Netrokona Sadar.
In the dry season, villagers can cross the river on foot, but in the rainy season, when the river becomes full with water, people suffer a lot in the absence of a bridge.
College student Azaharul Karim, one of the initiators of the bridge, said as there is no bridge to cross the river, people rely on small boats during the monsoon.
"Day after day, we have only received assurances from different quarters. So, the villagers have started constructing bridges themselves with choppers, spades and axes to make their way easier," he said.
During a visit to the spot, villagers were seen working to construct the bridge.
Asked how the bridge would be funded, Azhar Uddin, a local youth, said, "Villagers had raised a fund for the bridge. People paid as much as they could. Many have given bamboos from their bushes. Many others have given paddy. Shopkeepers gave us money. Those who cannot afford to pay are giving labour voluntarily."
Md Shahabaddin, a trader in Bausali market, said once the bridge is completed, it will increase the turnout of people in the market. Business will also increase as goods transportation becomes easier.
Farmer Lal Mia, who donated 14 decimals of land, said, "Paddy yield is good in the land along the river. If the bridge would benefit the people of this area, I could not do it anymore. So I gave the land."
Manjurul Haque, a teacher at Haji Fayez Uddin High School in Netrokona, one of the initiators who organised the villagers, said, "We, the people of a few villages, are working together to construct the bridge. Soil has already been filled on both sides of the river."
Freedom fighter Abu Taher said, "Once this bridge is completed, it will make communication between Netrokona and Mymensingh on this part of the river easier."
Mymensingh Zila Parishad member HM Khairul Basar said, "As I am from Gauripur upazila, I have officially lobbied to build this bridge to alleviate the suffering of the people in my area. So, there is no alternative to taking initiative locally."
People in the area have been suffering for a long time for lack of a bridge. If someone is sick, it becomes very difficult to take him to Mymensingh Sadar as it is about 40 km away from here. But Netrokona Sadar Hospital is half an hour's way from here.
Asked why the local administration did not pay heed to locals' plea for the bridge, Gauripur Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Hasan Maruf said, "I noticed on Facebook that the villagers are constructing a bridge themselves. I will look into the matter."
Gauripur Upazila Engineer ASM Wahedul Haque said, "We undertake a project considering its importance. The project that will benefit more people is done on a priority basis. Hopefully, people concerned will think about the bridge later."