Irregularities in development projects, including slow implementation, repeated extension of deadlines and the use of substandard materials, are nothing new in Bangladesh.
The ordinary residents of Tahirpur upazila describe a horrific story of irregularities in a bridge construction that have badly affected their lives.
An incomplete concrete bridge constructed over the Shantipur River in Tahirpur upazila of Sunamganj four years back is the story that reminds all about widespread anomalies in the country.
No one could use the bridge in the last four years as it was built without approach roads, prolonging the sufferings of the villagers.
They said though it is possible to walk across the river in autumn when it dries up but it is almost impossible to move during monsoon.
Badaghat-Chanpur road on which the bridge was built is used by people, especially by students and traders of 30 villages of the upazila.
It is learnt that the bridge was constructed on the Shantipur River under Uttar Badal union of the upazila in 2017 spending Tk 32 lakh. But the contractor did not complete the earthworks on neither side, let alone the connecting road. Now the bridge is there stand over the river but unable to offer any relief to.
According to Tahirpur upazila Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) office, Parvez Enterprise of Jamalganj upazila constructed the bridge as it had got the contract for implementing the project.
They left the project site as soon as the bridge was constructed without building the approach roads.
Later, the chairman of Uttar Borodal Union Parishad allotted Tk 3.2 lakh from the Employment Programme project for the construction of connecting roads making Abu Taher Mia, a UP member, head of the project.
Abu Taher started work from Shantipur Bazar and did the earthwork but still over 200 feet on the north side of the bridge remained untouched.
As the works remained incomplete, the soil was washed away during the rainy season in 2018.
Masuk Mia, a resident of the area, said the authorities concerned have not taken any necessary steps to make the bridge usable after its construction. “They didn’t feel the necessity that to make a bridge usable, connecting roads should be there on its both sides and have to be built with retention walls,” Masuk said.
The road connecting the bridge would have created job opportunities for many unemployed youths in the area had the bridge been made useable, he said.
Majid, a resident of Chanpur village, said, “If the connecting road would have been built, we could have easily used the bridge on Chanpur-Badaghat road to reach Tahirpur Sadar and suffering of the people would have reduced.”
Tahirpur upazila LGRD engineer Iqbal Karim said, "I’m new in this area. So, I’m not aware of the issue. We’ll take necessary steps.”
Tahirpur UP chairman Karuna Sindhu Chowdhury Babul said, “I will talk to the authorities concerned to end the sufferings of the local people.”