The Financial Express
Swasti Lankabangla Swasti Lankabangla

Floods' infrastructural impact

| Updated: September 02, 2020 21:22:22

-File photo -File photo

Though constructed out of necessity, like post-flood emergency, bamboo bridges can also be spectacular. Such a bridge, locally known as 'shako', has recently been discovered in a remote corner of the greater Dhaka. Upon failure to convince the authorities of the dire need of a concrete bridge in the area, the local people constructed the massive makeshift bridge across a wide canal. As all their entreaties fell on deaf ears, the daredevil residents of the area raised the nearly 2-storey high but perilous 'shako' in a display of rare camaraderie.

There are few upazilas in the country which do not have at least 10 ramshackle bamboo bridges. Almost all of them have been built after the collapse of the concrete bridges made by the local government authorities or the areas' people's representatives. Scenes of caved-in bridges, with the improvised bamboo-made ones beside them, are common sights in the rural Bangladesh. So are the sufferings of the people, especially of the elderly and women. Reports on these bridges are routine topics in both the print and electronic media. This year's monsoon flood has entered its third month since June.  Except for the media estimates, the real extent of the damages caused by the ongoing flood still remains unclear. The bitter fact, however, is the overflowing rivers and the flood-stricken areas continue to cause sufferings to people. The total flood-affected areas are estimated to be one-third of Bangladesh.

As could be seen at present, the waters of many flood-swollen rivers continue to recede; but there are also terrible scenes of riverbank erosions. However, despite the ups and downs in the water levels of the flooded rivers, and the devouring of establishments on the banks, intensity of the flood appears to be on the wane. In the interregnum, the damages caused by the deluge to road communication and other infrastructures are coming to the surface. According to various sources, over 7,000-kilometre national and regional highways and district level roads have been affected by the flood. The impact of mid-level floods in Bangladesh, like the recent one, has been nearly similar to those of recent decades. It is the people in the rural and semi-urban areas who mostly bear the brunt of these floods.

Apart from the trail of destructions the rural dwellings and croplands go through, there are many basic segments in the villagers' lives which fall victim to seasonal floods. The roads, bridges and embankments comprise a vital sector. The last among the three emerges as the most critical of the infrastructures during floods in Bangladesh. Hundreds of acres of cropland as well as homesteads are seen being washed away due to breaches developing in the embankments. These concrete or geo-bag embankments are built mainly to save croplands and human dwellings from the onrush of floodwater. Scores of many hazards beset the rural infrastructures, especially those involving roads and bridges. The malpractices of faulty road construction, building bridges with low-quality materials and the omnipresent financial irregularities are open secret. They warrant unremitting preventive steps. 

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