The Golam Mawla Bridge in Shariatpur's Naria upazila has been off-limits to traffic for the past six years, leading to enormous suffering for commuters in the nearby upazilas. As the bridge is closed off, heavy vehicles now have to take a 15-kilometre detour which has stifled and increased the cost of doing business in the area.
The Golam Mawla Bridge was built over the River Kirtinasha in FY1997-98 to facilitate smooth communication between Naria, Jajira, Vedorganj upazilas and Dhaka by road, but it was closed in 2015 due to safety concerns.
A bailey bridge was built for pedestrians later.
The LGED took an initiative to build a new bridge next to the old bridge. The construction cost of the 145-metre bridge was estimated at Tk14.87 crore and on 21 December 2017, Navana Construction was given the work order.
According to the work order, construction was supposed to end in June 2019. But even after multiple extensions, the bridge was not completed.
By June 2020, only two of the four piers and one of the two abutment walls were completed. Eventually, the LGED cancelled the work order and one more year elapsed.
As the fate of the bridge kept hanging in the balance, locals continued to suffer.
Abdus Salam, a trader in Naria Bazar, said his business had declined tremendously since the bridge had been closed. "We have been facing significant trouble transporting goods and have lost a lot of customers which has been harmful to our business," he added.
Md Haris, of Nariaupazila, is building a house but due to the bridge being closed, he now has to transport the construction materials through a detour. "The detour has increased my construction cost considerably," he complained.
In December 2021, the construction of a modified GolamMawla flyover was inaugurated and Kohinoor Enterprise was assigned the task at an estimated cost of Tk28.86 crore. The new bridge will have a length of 327 metres and the project is supposed to end in June 2024. Locals hope the contractor will this time sincerely complete the bridge, unlike the last time.
Shahabuddin Khan, upazila engineer of LGED said, once completed, the new bridge will mobilise trade in the region again. "We are hopeful that the bridge will be completed within the stipulated time," he added.