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25 June 2024

Bridge project stuck in limbo over land acquisition woes

Md. Nazrul Islam, Mymensingh

Published: 09:30, 19 May 2024

Bridge project stuck in limbo over land acquisition woes

The project, aimed at reducing travel distances and improving infrastructure in Mymensingh, has been halted for the past six months due to incomplete land acquisition. Photo: Messenger 

Despite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ambitious plan to enhance connectivity within Mymensingh by constructing three additional bridges over the Brahmaputra River, the foundation stone laid on October 19, 2023, for one such bridge in Rahmatpur has yet to see any progress. The project, aimed at reducing travel distances and improving infrastructure, has been halted for the past six months due to incomplete land acquisition.

The Sherpur (Kanasakhola)-Bhimganj-Narayankhola-Rambhadrapur-Paranganj-Mymensingh (Rahmatpur) road construction project, which could significantly cut travel time between Sherpur and Mymensingh by about 20 km, has been delayed. This delay also affects the connection to the Nankugao land port, Kurigram, and North Bengal, which would similarly see a reduction in distance by 20 km.

The contractor company, ready to commence work with a fully equipped camp office in Rahmatpur, has been idle for seven months, incurring monthly losses of Tk 10 to 12 lakhs. The total loss so far amounts to a significant sum, with no work progressed on the 1,472-meter-long Brahmaputra river bridge project, budgeted at Tk 3,580 crore.

Locals in Mymensingh have expressed their desire for the bridge to be built, acknowledging the benefits it would bring. However, they have raised concerns about not receiving compensation for their acquired land, which has led to objections and a halt in construction. The landowners are yet to receive notices under sections 7 and 8, despite being informed about the project through section 4 notices. They have made it clear that they will not obstruct the construction once they receive their due compensation after the section 8 notice.

Project Manager Saiful Islam highlighted the need for a resolution regarding land acquisition from the district administration to commence work. He also noted the financial burden of maintaining the construction camp, urging the administration to expedite the process.

Mymensingh Roads and Public Roads Executive Engineer KBM Saddam Hossain mentioned that meetings were held with the locals to inform them about the project's benefits before starting construction. However, rumors and objections arose after the notices were served, leading to a joint investigation with the district administration.

Deputy Commissioner Didare Alam Maqsud Chowdhury assured that the acquisition process is ongoing, with a section 7 notice to be issued soon after the investigation is completed.

The project, which promises to improve transportation of essentials like fertilizer and agricultural products, as well as enhance the country's communication system, is eagerly awaited by the residents of Mymensingh. The efforts of former Road Transport and Highways Department Secretary Md. Nazrul Islam in expediting the project's approval are also noted, with hopes that the construction will soon resume and fulfill the prime minister's vision for better connectivity in the region.

Despite the positive intentions behind the Rahmatpur bridge project, the delay has sparked frustration among the local population and the contractor company. Residents emphasize that their objections are not against the bridge itself but rather the lack of received compensation for their acquired land. Their stance underscores a broader issue of fair and timely compensation in public infrastructure projects, which can significantly impact the progress and success of such initiatives.

The project promises to drastically improve local and regional infrastructure, potentially reducing transportation costs and travel time, and fostering economic growth. However, achieving these goals hinges on effective coordination between the district administration, project managers, and the affected landowners.