Middle-aged Abul Kashem, with his two-year-old ailing daughter on his lap, and his wife were waiting at Fakirkhali ghat under Khilgaon Police Station in the capital for a boat to cross a vast water body to reach Dasherkandi.
Their destination was Mugda Medical College Hospital to see his daughter a doctor.
He also said the boat ride and walking down the bamboo bridge are their daily business for any work in other parts of the capital.
“We have no better option than the boat. There’s no direct road communication with other areas. There’re aisles along arable land and homesteads which remain under water for eight months in a year,” he added.
“The government is constructing the Padma Bridge but we’re using bamboo bridges right in the capital. We aren’t getting facilities like roads, drains, lights and bridges from the city corporation,” Kashem said letting a sigh of unhappiness.
He demanded a road connection from Fakirkhali to Trimohni via Dasherkandi.
Like Kashem, around 50,000 residents of Fakirkhali, Idarakandi, Kayetpara, Dasherkandi, Nasirabad and Islambagh that are under ward 75 of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) have to use at least four major bamboo bridges over the Norai River and around 100 small ones every day for internal and external communications.
Residents of the areas said during medical emergencies like stroke and going into labour they have to suffer a lot.
“We have to go either to Mugda Medical College Hospital or Dhaka Medical College Hospital for medical care. But for lack of road connection, many patients die on the way. Last year, my sister-in-law had gone into labour at night and died on the way to hospital,” said Rahima Begum, a middle-aged woman of Idarakandi.
Residents of the area have to cross four major bridges over Noari that connect Balurpar with Itkhola, Dasherkandi Purbapara with Gouronagar, Babur Jayga with Islambagh and Dasherkandi Dhakkhinpar with Trimohini Bazar while they have to take a boat ride from Fakirkhali to Dasherkhani and Dasherkandi to Trimohini.
These areas are surrounded by Balu and Norai rivers apart from many canals, including Deb-Dhoali, Zirani and Rampura ones. The most important route for communication is the 450-foot bamboo bridge over Norai, connecting Dasherkandi with Trimohoni Bazar.
Md Mohsin, a resident of Dasherkandi and in-charge of the bamboo bridge at Trimohini Bazar, said they built the bridge as the government is not taking any step to build a concrete bridge over the river.
He said, “Every day 2,000-3,000 people cross the bamboo bridge. We charge a person Tk 3 which is spent for maintenance of the bridge. We need Tk 4 lakh every year.”
Md Mizanur Rahman, headmaster of Baro Tara Bidyaniketan School in Babur Jayga area, said many students from Islambagh have to cross the bamboo bridge on the way to and from the school.
He said, “We and our guardians remain in fear as many students have to cross a 300-foot long and 50-foot high bridge over the Norai River. No one knows when a student slips into the river.”
Talking to this correspondent, Class-IV student Saidul Islam and Class-VI student Salma Begum, both hailing from Bagpara under Islambagh, said they always remain in fear while crossing the river and demanded a bridge over the river.
Taking to the Daily Sun, councillor from DSCC ward 75 Md Akbar Hossain admitted that people of the areas were suffering a lot for lack of communication system, saying they were trying to resolve the problem.
“Our mayor has visited the areas and heard about the problems of my ward. I portrayed the need to construct some roads and bridges immediately. The most urgent work is to build a bridge at Trimohini Bazar. Our mayor promised to build a bridge here,” he said.
DSCC Chief Executive Officer Farid Ahmed said the city corporation is preparing an integrated development plan for the new 18 wards, including ward 75. “We’ll develop the areas in a planned manner and we’re preparing an exclusive integrated plan. The plan will portray where to construct roads, drainages, footpaths, bridges and other infrastructures. We’ll be able to complete the design of the plan in four months,” he said.
He also expressed the hope that they will be able to start the development work very soon.