Built in the 80’s the bailey bridges in Khagrachari hilly district, were meant for carrying a maximum of 5-ton trucks. Today, goods-laden transports weighing up to 25 tons cross the shaky dilapidated bridges making the structures vulnerable to accidents.
“The bailey bridges have now become death traps,” said the driver of a 25-ton truck that regularly carry construction materials from the plains to the hills, speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to the Khagrachari Roads and Highways Department, there are 10 risky bailey bridges in Khagrachari.
Md Kashem, vice-president of Khagrachari Chamber of Commerce, said the bailey bridges in the district are about 40 years old. Now these bridges often collapse under weight of vehicles snapping road communications.
The Khagrachari Roads and Urban Development Department has promised to that concrete bridges will be constructed to replace all bailey bridges in phases.
But locals see no sign of any activity to replace the bailey bridges, which were built as temporary means of communication.
In the past four decades since the bailey bridges were built Khagrachari, a valley town, has witnessed manifold growth in tourism, trade and commerce. So has increased the movement of trucks and other vehicles putting heavy pressure on the ageing iron (or steel) structures.
Accidents due to collapse of the bridges under the weight of heavy trucks have been common.
An accident on a bridge early this year left at least three people killed, while another such accident occurred in December last year injuring eight people.
A number of cases have been filed against us due to the accident on the bridge at Longdu,” some transport workers alleged.
In this regard, transport workers have demanded the construction of a concrete bridge to replace the risky bailey bridge at Longdu of Khagrachari district’s Dighinala upazila.
Sabuj Chakma, Sub-Divisional Engineer, Khagrachari Roads and Highways Department, said 70 concrete bridges have been constructed in the last few years. The remaining bailey bridges are in the process of being replaced, he said.
“Plans are afoot to build concrete bridges to replace these risky bailey bridges. If the project is passed, a concrete bridge will be constructed at Longdu too,” he added.
Source: United News of Bangladesh