Majority of the locals blamed the administration for not building a permanent bridge
Although it’s a canal, during monsoon the “Gowali Khal” becomes a rivulet with a strong current, raising the risks of crossing it on the makeshift bridge made of bamboo poles known as a “Shako”.
“Children and old people fear for their lives when crossing the canal by the Shako,” said 65-year-old Bashar Ali of Ramdhana Shekhargaon Paschimpara area under Alangkari union of Sylhet’s Bishwanath upazila.
A good number of locals cross the canal by this single Shako every day to go to work and conduct usual business, he said.
There are still some people who cross the canal on rafts and make their cattle swim rather than risk their lives on the Shako, said locals.
The residents of this area have been suffering for over 30 years for the absence of a concrete bridge over the Gowali canal, they added.
During a recent visit, this correspondent heard locals voicing their frustration.
They escorted the reporter to the Gowali canal over which the 45ft-long and 5ft-wide Shako was built recently. It stood between Shekhargaon Pashimpara and Alankari Primary School road. Thick mud was found when approaching both ends of the Shako which made accessing it even more difficult.
Though a majority of the local people blamed the administration and people’s representatives of the area for not building a permanent bridge, some pointed to local rivalry as the cause.
Local Union Parishad Chairman Nazmul Islam Ruhel claimed that government allotted funds twice to build a concrete bridge. But the funds returned unused due to objection by some villagers who feared it may take over their land.
Majority of the locals, however, disagreed with the chairman. They said politicians made promises to build the bridge ahead of the election but forgot them as soon as it was over.
MPs have come and gone but the bamboo bridge remained the same, they said.
The villagers have to often repair Shako with their own money to avoid accidents. Besides, the bamboos need to be changed twice a year for which locals pay money and work voluntarily.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Sumon Chandra Das said the administration is aware of the people’s sufferings for lack of the bridge.
Necessary steps will soon be taken to address the matter, he said.