• Wednesday, Feb 26, 2020
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Heavy vehicles still using dilapidated Shahbazpur bridge, despite ban

  • Published at 04:54 pm June 25th, 2019
File photo of trucks pass through risky Shahbazpur bridge Dhaka Tribune

The Titas river bridge in Brahmanbaria's Sarail was closed on June 19

Heavy vehicles are still using the risky Shahbazpur bridge after it reopened; following some quick repairs after the Kulaura train crash on Sunday.

Efforts to repair the broken concrete bridge by constructing Bailey bridges has worsened the situation.

Despite a ban, goods-laden trucks—along with other heavy vehicles—were seen plying on the bridge, despite the risk.

When asked for comment regarding the ongoing situation, Mohammad Moniruzzaman, Highway Police Sub-Inspector (SI), said: "We are doing everything we can to avoid gridlock on the highway. 

Also Read- Risky Shahbazpur bridge reopens hours after Kulaura train crash

"However, due to a lack of weight measuring equipment, we are not able to stop all heavy vehicles from using the bridge. We are fining vehicles based on our own judgement."

On June 19, the Titas river bridge, in Brahmanbaria's Sarail, was closed after railings broke on a span of the dilapidated bridge.

The bridge was temporarily fixed and opened to traffic amid risks. All kinds of vehicles, including goods-laden trucks, were seen using the risky bridge on Monday morning.

New bridge long overdue

Built in 1963, the 250-metre-plus-long Shahbazpur Bridge was widened and modernized for the National Highway 2 (Dhaka-Sylhet) many times, but over the years, the bridge drew little attention from policy planners for proper maintenance and replacement.

Passengers who frequent the route said that for nearly a decade, the old bridge has been in a precarious condition; with caution signs posted on both sides of the bridge, urging people to drive slowly, and prohibiting its use by vehicles with heavy loads. 

A senior roads and highways divisional engineer, Monir Pathan, who is overseeing developments in the Comilla-Brahmanbaria region, told Dhaka Tribune yesterday that a new bridge has been long overdue as the Shahbazpur Bridge—that was badly damaged in the 1971 Liberation War—has been in bad shape for many years.

“However, the good news is that we have nearly completed construction of a new bridge over the Titas river and hope to open it to traffic in early July,” he said. 

Sources said there was negligence in the new bridge construction and due to faulty design, the bridge construction was delayed twice; adding to the misery of passengers and cargo operators on this important national highway.