FARIDPUR, Mar 08: Toll from the Gorai Bridge to meet the construction cost is being collected for the last 29 years since the bridge was opened.
Sources said, collecting toll from such a long period of time has sparked anger among the people.
Gorai Bridge is on the Gorai river in Kamarkhali of Faridpur on the Dhaka-Khulna highway.
Faridpur district is located on one side of the bridge and Magura district on the other.
Construction of the 622-metre-long bridge began in 1988. It was inaugurated in 1991.
According to the Faridpur Road Division sources, on July 16, 1991, the then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia inaugurated the bridge. The construction cost of the bridge was Tk 500 million.
Contractor Messrs Mostafa was given the responsibility of collecting toll from for three years. It is supposed to pay the money to the Faridpur Road Division three times a year.
Faridpur Road Department has so far received Tk 236.49 million from the contractor's organisation. With this money, total toll collected from the bridge so far is Tk 1.52 billion.
Besides, almost three times the construction cost of the Gorai Bridge has already been realised from people, but no initiative is being taken to declare it as toll-free. There is no end to the misery of the drivers and the owners of the buses and trucks and workers of the various vehicles.
All types of vehicles have to pay toll from Tk 665 to Tk 5.0 to cross the bridge.
Kartik Dutta, manager of the toll collection company, said on an average everyday 3,000 to 3,500 vehicles use this bridge daily.
Hafizur Rahman, another manager of the contractor, who is in the same charge, said the toll was collected on an average of Tk 0.5 million to Tk 0.55 million daily.
Ali Ahsan Boney, general secretary of Faridpur Bus Owners' Group, said at least 2,000 buses use the bridge daily. "Everyday we have to pay toll. The owners of the vehicle do not give it from their own pockets, we collect it from the passengers. If the toll is stopped, our travel time will be saved. The passengers will benefit, too."
"The government has already recovered the bridge construction cost three times from collecting toll. So, why the burden of toll is being imposed on the people till now? We demand that collecting toll be stopped immediately", he added.
In this connection, Faridpur Road Division Executive Engineer Rakibul Bari said, "Toll from the Gorai Bridge is collected by the Road Department. But the money is deposited in the fund of the Ministry of Finance. Moreover, according to government rules, toll collection is required of bridges over 200 meters in length. There is no indication that the toll will actually not to be taken, if the construction expenses of the bridge are fullyrealised. We can stop collecting toll if the government decides."
Madhukhali upazila chairman Mirza Moniruzzaman Bachchu said toll collection needed to be ended.
Sources pointed out that the 664-meter Tora bridge on the Kaliganga river in Manikganj district on the Dhaka-Aricha road is now toll-free. Vehicles that pass through the bridge no longer have to pay toll from 12 am on January 17, 2015.
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