RAJSHAHI, May 02: The third Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge over the Mahananda river is being used even at its grace period since its lifespan has already been expired years ago. Due to indiscriminate movement of heavy, over laden vehicles over the bridge, it is now in a dilapidated state as in numerous small and large cracks have been formed all over the structure of the bridge.
The bridge, also known as Birshrestha Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir Bridge, was constructed in 1993 in Chapainawabganj Sadar connecting Sona Masjid Land Port. Several thousand over-laden motor vehicles now run through the bridge daily. Being built under the supervision of a Chinese construction farm, the Roads and Highways Department ((RHD) failed to specify its exact lifespan.
Concerned sources, however, assumed the 448.3 metre long bridge has a lifespan 50 years. The approved load of double axels vehicles movement on the bridge is 15 to 22 tonnes. But defying the load limit, hundreds of vehicles carrying 44 to 50 tonnes of heavy vehicles were crossing the bridge everyday. According to engineers of RHD, if movement of vehicles carrying a double load than the approved load crossed any bridge for five years, the lifespan of that bridge is reduced to 1/5th (one fifth) of the approved load. As per the calculation, the lifespan of the bridge has elapsed 10-year ago.
AZM Farhad Daud, sub-divisional engineer of R&H of Chapainawabganj informed, due to movement of overloaded vehicles through the bridge, its condition is at stake. Innumerous cracks have been formed at the wiring surface of the bridge. There were several repairing at the connecting sheets of the bridge recently. The RHD authorities have sent a letter to the Chinese construction company expressing their worry over the overall condition of the bridge in December last. They expressed the hope that the Chinese construction company will start large scale repairing works of the bridge soon.
According to a survey of the department, a total of 835 heavy vehicles crossed the bridge in a week while 3,746 medium sized trucks laden with goods crossed the vehicles during the same time. The figure shows, during one week a total of 797 heavy and medium trucks crossed the bridge daily during the last ten years and the number of vehicles crossing the bridge was increasing at 7.0 per cent per year.
A report from Sona Masjid land customs station also showed, a total of 5,402 truck load of heavy stone were imported during 2015, next year 4,314 truckload of stone was imported and upto November 2017, a total of 4,315 truckladen stone was imported through the land port which all crossed through the bridge. Moreover, there was import of thousands of tonnes of other materials like coal, cement, fruits and wheat through the port every day.
There having no weighing machine, RHD authorities failed to identify the over load of the trucks. The weighing machine set up at a cost of Tk. 6.3 million at Koylabari point beside the Chapainawabganj-Sona Majid Highway also remained out of order for more than three years.
Fazlul Karim, superintending engineer (Road Design and Safety Circle) of RHD, said the process was underway to set up local, permanent weighing machine beside important highways of the country. The works of starting to set up of those machines is likely to start with the final approval of the project from the ECNEC. He also said the bridge needs repairing for it use.
Suniti Kumar Chakma, executive engineer of RHD, Rajshahi, said to keep the road communication hassle-free, a proposal for construction of a second bridge over the river is waiting for approval and also a four-lane highway from Rajshahi to Sona Masjid has been proposed to be built to transport goods through Sona Masjid land port.
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