Although it was opened to traffic barely 13 months back, most lights of the Sheikh Hasina Kulaghat Dharla Bridge in Fulbari upazila have gone out of order, turning it into a ‘safe haven’ for drug addicts, muggers and anti-social elements at night.
The hanging lights of the bridge over the Dharla River do not light up even though the steel pillars have the electricity connections.
Locals alleged that no attempt has been taken yet for repairing those, forcing people and vehicles to cross the bridge in darkness amid constant fear. The absence of light has made it an ideal place for drug addicts to take narcotics, they said.
They fear that any serious accident may take place on the 950-metre bridge anytime if the situation remains unchanged.
The second Sheikh Hasina Dharla Bridge was implemented by Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) spending Tk 196.75 core. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated it on June 3, 2018 through a videoconference.
On April 24, 2014, a contract was signed with Navana Construction to build the bridge. Although the work was supposed to be completed by 26 months, the construction firm finished it in December 2018 after having the deadline extended twice, according to official sources.
They said the cost of the main bridge was estimated at Tk 129.08 crore, with keeping aside Tk 42.46 crore for river management and fixing the cost of electrification at Tk 65 lakh.
At night when the lights are supposed to be on, most of them do not work and at times all of them go off, according to the local people.
“It has become difficult to cross the nearly 1-km long unattractive bridge without any torchlight,’’ said Kamaluddin Mahbub, a college student of the upazila.
“Even though many visitors throng the bridge on special days, they quickly leave the place well before the night sets in. Anti-social activities like drug abuse are on the rise on the bridge while cases of mugging are being reported regularly,” said Afzal Sheikh, a local businessman.
According to Ershadul and Saidul, both vendors, said more than half of the lights have not been working for a long time. The bridge finds some light as long as the solar lights in their shops are functional. Once the shops are closed, the bridge plunges into complete darkness.
Morshed Alam, in-charge of the complaint centre in upazila electric office, said a transformer has been set up along the bridge to meet the electricity demand.
Asib Iqbal Rajib, an LGED engineer, said some of the lights are not working due to low voltage and some of them were fixed just a few days ago. “We’ve to quickly find out why some of the lights are not working,” he added.unb