• Sunday, Jun 13, 2021
  • Last Update : 07:33 pm

Paying price for negligence: 13 bridges to be torn down for smooth waterways

  • Published at 07:30 pm February 8th, 2021
Buses, trucks cross Ashulia bridge
Buses, trucks cross Ashulia bridge Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Demolition of the bridges is the price of negligence by implementing authorities, experts say

At least 13 bridges that were haphazardly constructed over rivers surrounding Dhaka city are set to be demolished to make way for smooth water traffic, officials have said.

The bridges are among numerous other bridges and culverts that were constructed without maintaining minimum clearance requirements by the Roads and Highways Department, Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and Bangladesh Railways. 

Some of the bridges are so low that a small boat would not be able to pass under them, let alone ferries and larger vessels. As a result, they are a major barrier to implementing the much-anticipated Dhaka Circular Waterway project.

The authorities hope the Circular Waterway project will ease the pressure of traffic on Dhaka roads. A committee headed by Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Tajul Islam recently took the decision to demolish the 13 bridges, including a railway bridge.

According to the committee, there are other bridges with design flaws on the waterway route, but they should not impede water traffic if they are renovated. 

The condition of Ashulia bridge is pictured in this image | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka TribuneAn estimated Tk1,600 crore would be required to construct new bridges, but this money could have been saved if the authorities followed the proper guidelines and coordinated with the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), experts said.  

“A massive amount of money would not have been wasted if the officials concerned had followed the clearance guidelines. This is a punishable offence, and the responsible parties should be held accountable,” said noted architect Iqbal Habib, who is joint secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA).

When asked about the bridges, LGED Chief Engineer Md Abdur Rashid Khan he was not in charge when they were built, but the failure to follow BITWA guidelines was a clear sign of negligence by the officials concerned. 

BIWTA Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq said: “The bridges were constructed without following clearance guidelines because of a lack of coordination. The faulty bridges will now be reshaped as we are prioritizing improvements to the navigability of rivers around Dhaka to make the Circular Waterway project functional.”

According to the plan, new bridges will be made gradually. The circular waterway is likely to go through the Turag, Balu, Buriganga and Sitalakhya Rivers while incorporating some canals in and around Dhaka.

LGED’s bridges  

Among the 13 bridges, six are owned by the LGED and the department will be responsible for their demolition. It has already completed fresh designs for five of the bridges.

The LGED has already started construction of one bridge, as it is an important part of the rural road project.

The condition of Ashulia bridge is pictured in this image | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed that the circular waterway be implemented, so we are following the directive and have already started work. Designs of the selected bridges have been completed and one bridge is under construction over the Balu River,” said LGED Chief Engineer Md Abdur Rashid Khan.

Roads and Highways Department yet decide on 3 bridges

The Roads and Highways Department is set to demolish Tongi Bridge 1 and 2 after completing the six-lane bridge over the Turag River under the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, said Roads and Highways Department Chief Engineer Md Abdus Sabur.

The bridge under the BRT project is being implemented by the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, he added.

The Roads and Highways Department is yet to decide on three other bridges the committee has marked for demolition: the Aminbazar bailey bridge connecting Gabtoli and Aminbazar, the Termukh bridge from Abdullahpur to Ulokhola and Purbachal Bridge.

“We are yet to receive directives from the committee on protecting rivers around Dhaka and Chittagong under the bridges,” Sabur said.

The 230m Ashulia Bridge is set to be demolished to construct a 3km-long circular bridge under the Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway Project (DAEEP). 

“The bridge will not only be a communication corridor but also a recreation center for commuters,” said Shahabuddin Khan, project director of DAEEP.  

Bridge Name 

Agency built

Existing vertical clearance (M)

Required vertical clearance (M)

Deficit

(M)

Decision

Initiative

Basila bridge

RHD

7.29

7.62

0.33

Subsist

No need

Aminbazar bailey bridge

RHD

6.55

7.62

1.07

Demolish

Nothing

Aminbazar bridge

RHD

7.16

7.62

0.46

Subsist

No need

Birulia bridge

RHD

7.58

7.62

0.04

Subsist

No need

Prattasha bridge

LGED

2.48

7.62

5.14

Demolish

Newly designed

Kamarpara bridge-1

LGED

2.17

7.62

5.45

Demolish

Newly designed

Kamarpara bridge-2

LGED

4.17

7.62

3.45

Demolish

Newly designed

Tongi bridge-2

RHD

3.26

7.62

4.63

Demolish

New bridge 

Tongi bridge-3

RHD

3.06

7.62

4.56

Demolish

New bridge

Tongi rail bridge-2

Railways

1.79

7.62

5.83

Renovate

Planning stage

Tongi rail bridge-1

Railways

1.36

7.62

6.26

Demolish

Planning stage

Termukh bridge

RHD

4.15

12.2

8.05

Demolish

Nothing

Purbachal bridge

RHD

8.54

12.2

3.66

Demolish

Nothing

Chonpara bridge

LGED

4.11

12.2

8.09

Demolish

Newly designed

Kanchpur bridge-1

RHD

12.02

12.2

0.18

Subsist

No need

Echapur bailey bridge

LGED

4.52

7.62

3.0

Demolish

New bridge

Kawondia ghat bridge

LGED

3.72

7.62

4.12

Demolish

Newly design

Ashulia bridge

RHD

3.20

7.62

4.42

Demolish

New bridge

56
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