Cox's Bazar has been hit hard by floods with torrential rains and landslides pummeling the town for the last five days of last month, damaging 44 kilometers of roads and embankments.
About 30 kilometers of roads and by-roads in 500 villages of 50 unions in nine upazilas of Cox's Bazar have been damaged, according to district administration.
Another six kilometres of a protective embankment of the Matamuhuri river in Chakaria upazila, five kilometres of another such embankment along the Phuleswari river in Eidgaon upazila, and about another three kilometres of a protective embankment on the Bakkhali in Ramu upazila have been damaged, and hence the river banks are eroding.
Croplands and settlements are still being devoured by the rivers. Many people are leaving, moving away, in fear of losing their lives, their homes and belongings, to the river.
The damage may get much worse if preventive measures are not taken soon, said these victims of the floods and river erosion.
According to the District Relief and Rehabilitation Office, about one lakh families in 500 villages of 51 Cox's Bazar unions have been affected by the floods due to incessant rains in Cox's Bazar since 26 July. In the last five days of last month, 13 people died in separate landslides and nine got swept away by the floodwaters. Among them, six were Rohingyas.
After the waters receded, there are gaping potholes on the roads in parts of Jhilangja, P.m Khali and Khurushskul Unions in Sadar upazila, in multiple unions of Eidgaon Upazila, different areas of Chakaria upazila, including the municipality, several unions of Pekua upazila, and various unions of Ukhia upazila.
Jhilangja Union Parishad chairman Tipu Sultan said the season's first landslides and floods have caused extensive damage to the area. It is unimaginable what will happen next if there is another spell of rainfall and floods.
Mohammad Anisur Rahman, executive engineer of the Cox's Bazar Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), said statistics show that 30 kilometers of roads had been damaged and the worst affected area is Eidgaon upazila. District-wide damage could increase further. Initiatives have to be taken to renovate the dilapidated roads on a priority basis.
Prabir Kumar Goswami, executive engineer of the Cox's Bazar Water Development Board (WDB), said the recent floods have damaged about five kilometres of embankments stretching across Jalalabad, Farazipara, Banshghata, and Pokkhali on the river Phuleswari, and three kilometers of embankments stretching from Kachhpia Union of Bakkhali to Jhilangja-P.m khali in Ramu, and six kilometers stretching across several points of the Matamuhuri river bank. Croplands and homesteads are also getting washed away every day.
WDB has sent a budget proposal identifying all the erosion and renovation has begun in crucial areas, he said. They are working on preventing further erosion of the river banks and to save homesteads, he added.
Mohammad Jahangir Alam, District Relief and Rehabilitation Officer, said the government has provided assistance of Tk25,000 per person to the families of those who died in the landslide. The flood victims got 300 tons of rice, 2,500 packets of dry food, and a total of Tk15 lakh in cash.
INGOs and NGOs, in coordination with the district administration, have also provided assistance to the flood victims and are still providing assistance, he added.
Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner, Mohammad Mamunur Rashid, said floods and landslides ravaged homes, farmland, and roads in most upazilas of the district. Upazila administrations are working on determining the exact amount of financial loss. Next steps will be taken accordingly, once the extent of damage is known and assessed.