The Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) is constructing two more footbridges in the city although a Tk1.63 crore bridge has been lying abandoned for six years, thanks to lack of planning and foresight.
Dignitaries and civil society members have alleged that these unnecessary and unplanned projects have been taken up to gobble up money. These will not serve any purpose of the city dwellers. It will only be a waste of public money.
In 2015, the corporation constructed a footbridge at Court Point in Bandar Bazar area in the city. Since then, the bridge has been lying abandoned. This unnecessary structure has now become a nuisance for widening the road and people in the vicinity.
The bridge has also become a problem for the corporation as they could not sell it for not getting a fair price even after multiple sales initiatives.
Of the two footbridges, the construction work of the footbridge at Titlagarh near MC College has been completed. The place for another bridge has not been finalised yet. The corporation is constructing those bridges at a cost of Tk3.58 crore, according to the corporation sources.
However, the footbridge can be constructed at Humayun Rashid square or near the main gate of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.
Visiting the Titlagarh area recently, the footbridge was found also empty like that at Court Point. Pedestrians were seen crossing the road on foot under the overbridge.
Abdul Karim Kim, coordinator of the civil society movement in Sylhet, said not the students, the goons will benefit from the footbridge at Court Point.
He further said city dwellers will not benefit from the bridge, rather it is a waste of public money. The footbridge poses risks as the Court Point area hosts many public programmes. Terrorists can launch attacks from the abandoned bridge.
City corporation officials say the use of the footbridge will increase when MC College and Government College in Titlagarh area will open. Students will cross the road using the bridge. It has been constructed keeping in mind the safety of the students.
The corporation is constructing two more footbridges to meet the needs of commuters, SCC chief engineer Noor Azizur Rahman said, admitting that the Court Point bridge has been lying abandoned for years.
Blaming commuters' lack of awareness and less interest in using the footbridge, he said the footbridge is not unnecessary. People have to be aware of using the footbridges.
As many trucks cross Tilagarh area, the bridge here is important for the safety of the students, the engineer opined.
City Mayor ArifulHaque Chowdhury could not be reached despite multiple attempts over mobile phone.
As the first footbridge in Sylhet at Court Point has been unused since its inception, the corporation took the initiative to sell it at auction. But interested people want to pay only Tk22 lakh for the bridge.
In this context, the city corporation stepped back from the decision to sell it.
SCC chief executive officer MLA Roy Chowdhury said the tender was floated twice for the sale of the footbridge. But none wanted to pay more than Tk22 lakh. The structure remained unsold as the corporation did not get a fair price. Now it has no plans to relocate the bridge.
On condition of anonymity, a leader of the business association of MadhubanSuperMarket, next to the footbridge at Court Point, said, "We objected when the bridge was built. There is no need for a footbridge on such a small road. What is more, people cannot see our market because of the bridge. But the authorities did not pay heed to our objections."
MunirHelal, a member of the Sylhet chapter of SochetonNagorik Committee, said the city corporation's key responsibility is to ensure civic rights to city dwellers. Without going that way, it is busy taking up projects, including footbridges in the places where pedestrians do not use them.
This is a waste of public money, he said.