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Bridge breaks down before opening

12 July 2017 bdnews24.com

A bridge constructed at a cost of Tk 6 million at Dhopachharhi Union in Chittagong's Chandanaish Upazila is on the verge of collapse just about two months after it was built.
The construction of the 60-ft bridge on Dhopachharhi Canal was completed at the end of May in an attempt to ease the sufferings of the people of the area.
But huge cracks surfaced on it within the next three weeks. The local MP was supposed to inaugurate it on Jun 15, but that did not happen because of the cracks which made the bridge unsafe for use.
The contractor, however, has blamed flash floods triggered by the heavy rain of Jun 13 for the cracks and the near-collapse condition of the bridge, built under a disaster management ministry project. Farmer Ahmad Nabi swims to cross the canal like the others during the rainy season and he was happy to see the new concrete bridge.
But, he and the rest of the locals have been left disappointed now with the prospect of the bridge opening appearing bleak. This correspondent found the middle of the bridge sagging while there were huge cracks all around. Soil that made the approach-way on both sides of the bridge had also been washed away.
People were using wooden planks to get on the bridge and walk on foot to the other side.
The Dhopachharhi Canal is situated at Chhapachharhi on the eight-mile-long Kumari Road. Nearly 10,000 people who live at Dhopachharhi Union have long been using bridges made of wooden planks to cross it.
An upset Union Council Member, Abdul Jabbar, said the new bridge would have made a huge difference to the livelihood and commute of the locals.
He told bdnews24.com most of the people in the area are farmers. They suffer immensely when they cross the canal with their produce during the rainy season.
"This is our bad luck that this concrete bridge has also become unusable."
A local resident who worked as a construction worker, on condition of anonymity, said "the piling of the bridge has gone only three feet under the canal's sandbed".
The bridge "caved in" after the Jun 13 flash flood washed the soil away from 15 feet under the piling, said the worker.
Md Arif, who owns the constructing firm AK Syndicate Construction Company, told bdnews24.com that the canal was 100 feet wide, but the bridge's length was only 60 feet. "We only followed our work order. The piling should have gone a minimum of 85 feet below the sandbed. This place needs a bridge built at a cost of Tk 25 million at the minimum."
He claimed no corruption or embezzlement had taken place in this project. "I can dare anyone to prove that there has been corruption. The bridge was built using all the allotted money."
The project had three months to complete but Arif's firm ended the construction within 41 days.
"Local authorities supervised the work. I maintained transparency in our work," Arif said. Along with the flash flood, he also blamed huge tree logs and trunks, floating on the water at the time, hitting the bridge.
Engineer Zahirul Islam, the Upazila project implementation official under the disaster management ministry, also echoed Arif.

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