'Damage to Padma bridge pier insignificant'

FE REPORT | Sunday, 25 July 2021

The users of the Padma have been alerted to carefully cross the river for protection of the under-construction costly bridge from any damage.

The move has been made after a ro-ro ferry hit a pier of the country's largest infrastructure on Friday.

On Saturday, Cabinet secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam, bridges division secretary Mohmmad Abu Bakr Siddique and Padma Multipurpose Bridge project director Mohammad Shafiqul Islam visited the site to survey the damage.

Shariatpur deputy commissioner and officials of the local administration also joined the visitors.

Sources said a team of the bridge project along with high-ranking government officials also inspected the site but found the damage ignorable.

"But the accident could have a bigger consequence for the ferry and its passengers," said a project insider.

But the officials in a meeting directed the project office for measures to alert the users of the river in order to protect the structure from any damage.

"We've already talked to the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) and will issue letters to others concerned in connection with the safety of the bridge," said the project director.

The project office had an earlier decision on the issuance of letters to stakeholders, including the BIWTC and river police. Protection has been intensified after Friday's incident, he stated.

"The damage is nothing," Mr Shafiqul Islam told the FE over phone from the project site.

Since the country's longest bridge has been visible, people from nearby and far-flung areas rove on the river to enjoy the long-cherished bridge.

The ferry, Shah Jalal, hit pier number 17 around 9:30 am. It was heading towards Shimulia jetty from Madaripur with passengers returning to Dhaka city after Eid holidays.

Twenty people were reported injured in the accident.

Meanwhile, the master of the ferry has been suspended.

The BIWTC has formed a four-member committee, led by general manager SM Ashiquzzaman, to investigate the incident and submit a report in three days.

Other members are director M Shahjahan, assistant general manager (marine) Ahmed Ali and AGM (engineering) Rubeluzzaman.

The project office has also lodged a general diary with Shariatpur police station.

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