There have been several cases of children and elderly people falling into the Bhulua River from the 60m-long dodgy makeshift bridge
For the 20,000-odd residents of Kalakopa village, life is a balancing act, literally. This is because a rickety-old makeshift bamboo bridge over the Bhulua River in the remote hamlet is their sole means of communication with the outside world.
In fact, crossing the river to get to civilization has been a pain for the residents of Kalakopa in Ramgati upazila of Lakshmipur district for decades. For the past 30 years, they petitioned their local authorities for a concrete bridge only for it to go unheeded.
Residents say they have been facing immense sufferings for want of a concrete bridge. “I don't have the courage to cross the bamboo bridge alone after I fell from it one time," says Rahima Khatun, a 60-year-old resident.
Others too say that they take their lives in their own hands while crossing the bridge to connect with the outside world. Ali Arshad, Abdul Goni, Abdul Motin and Musharraf Hossain all blame the local administration for not taking any initiative to improve their lives.
"The worst sufferers are the school-going children and the elderly. There have been several cases of children falling into the river from the 60m-long makeshift bridge as it starts shaking due to overload. But the local officials just don't bother," says Azizul Haque, a resident.
As the village does not have an educational institution, students have to cross the bridge to attend schools—be it Hajipara Government Primary School or Charjagbandhu Safiganj Dakhil Madrasa.
The bamboo bridge is also the only link for the village with areas like Battoli, Badamtoli, Jugigo, Bhulua Bazar, Keramotia Bazar, Jamidarhat, Char Alexandar, Fajumiarhat, Hajirhat and Ramgoti Thana.
Local farmers also face hardship in the absence of a concrete bridge. "We have to shell out more money to cross the river on a ferry to go to the weekly markets to sell our produce," says a local farmer.
Shakhawat Hossain Jashim, the chairman of Charbadam Union, says, “People have long been suffering for want of a bridge in the village and a letter was sent to Local Government and Engineering Department (LGED) in this regard. We are waiting for their response."
When contacted, Abdul Momin, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Ramgati, told UNB, “We are looking into the problem and necessary steps to construct a concrete bridge over the Bhulua River will soon be taken.”