It is very unfortunate to note that the old Tong Bridge over the Turag River situated in the east side has been in a sorry state since long under the very nose of the authorities concerned.
The bridges enable all sorts of passengers and goods-laden vehicles from the country’s north, northwest, mid, east and northeast districts enter the capital Dhaka using Abdullahpur gateway. There are two attached bridges over the Turag River. One has been constructed in the east side more than 50 years ago, while another around 30 years ago in the west. Therefore, this bridge is very crucial point of connection in the transport system between the capital and north, northwest, mid, east and northeast parts of the country.
High officials of traffic police repeatedly informed about the dilapidated and vulnerable condition of the Tongi Bridge to the bridge authority, an autonomous government body responsible for the construction and maintenance of bridges. And even they also urged the authorities to renovate the bridge immediately especially when all sorts of vehicles stayed off the roads and highways due to nationwide lockdown caused by Covid-19 pandemic. But authorities concerned overlooked the issue and ignored the traffic officials’ urgent call. And instead of renovating the bridge, they covered the broken portion with steel plates in order to keep the vehicles’ movement on. Therefore, operation of vehicles round the clock dislodged the plates and caused further damage forcing the authorities to halt movement of vehicles via the Dhaka-bound lane of Tongi Bridge on the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway since Wednesday night. We think this vulnerable and risky bridge dotted with big hole could lead to a deadly collapse anytime.
Keeping in mind the overall ensuing situation, we think the authorities could take alternative measures earlier so that people would not have to face such difficult situation. The authorities have arranged for alternative routes to reduce traffic gridlock on the major highway. As there is no way for Dhaka-bound vehicles to cross it without Tongi Bridge, the vehicles are crossing over the embankment via Kamarpara Road after making U-turns from Tongi’s Station Road.
Since Thursday morning, vehicles have been moving at a snail's pace on the highway, leading to a long tailback on the Gazipur-Dhaka carriageway of the corridor. This is also causing huge tailbacks on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway for the last few days while commuters are having a harrowing time due to the snarl on the highway. However, the authorities assured that they would take eight to 10 days to complete repair work. Therefore, we think the authorities will complete the repair work as early as possible and take measures to lessen public sufferings.