Posted on February 20, 2023
Unplanned river-dredging in the upstream of Padma Bridge is allegedly going on unabated, changing direction of the water flows that, officials fear, might cause a threat to the dream bridge.
Sources said the Tk 301.93 billion bridge project has already faced such challenges, but withdrawal of sand continued as the authorities concerned have no legal rights to stop it.
The project authorities, however, do not consider such dredging at a certain distance downstream the bridge as a threat, they added.
At least three government agencies, including Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and Bangladesh Water Development Board, have the authority to oversee the river-related issues.
Officials said the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) project has the legal rights to maintain the river within the bridge’s 250-metre upstream and downstream to ensure proper navigation. The maintenance barge regularly moves through below the 6.15-kilometre bridge, they added.
An official, preferring not to be named, pointed out that an appropriate flow of the river needs to be maintained up to 10-15 km upstream and downstream to keep the bridge risk-free and that the river-training work is carried out keeping this in mind.
However, he said, the unplanned dredging inside and outside the project’s command area in the upstream may be a severe threat for the Padma Bridge.
Sources said the entire two-kilometre char, which was developed before starting construction of the two-tier bridge, that began from near the Pier-13 to Pier-27 of the bridge has completely eroded by now.
Project Director M Shafiqul Islam recognised the problem and said the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) will address the issue like that of the Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge.
He, however, said the 100-year life of the Padma Bridge depends on the planned dredging which is a part of the maintenance work.
“We only address the issues found within the 250-metre area as this part is owned by the BBA,” the PD said.
The PMB has already drafted a maintenance guideline including the issue of dredging for the BBA, the executing agency of the project.
Officials said the draft, which is being prepared by the project’s consultant, will be finalised after sharing it with all the stakeholders. They expected the dredging issue to be addressed at the stakeholders’ meeting.
Sources, however, said the involvement of influential people in the dredging activities might hinder the bridge’s proper maintenance.
The BIWTA recently decided to dredge Padma River near Barishal region as the depth of main channel at Mawa point reduced due to shoals created following construction of the bridge.
They alleged that the river flow is obstructed due to reasons like construction of piers in different directions. The bridge is connected at Mawa and Janjira sides in a slant horizontal line while the electric towers cross the river in a curved line.