Local people in Cox's Bazar Sadar upazila have been constructing Baruakhali-PM Khali approach road through voluntary works in the hope of getting a much-needed bridge on the Baruakhali River.
More than 100 people from several villages in Baruakhali union under the upazila have been working voluntarily on shifts every day for that last one week.
A festive atmosphere has permeated the entire area as the local people are giving voluntary labour in a joyous mood to the beat of drums.
They hope if the link road is built, the government would take necessary measures to construct the dream bridge on the Baruakhali River soon.
Baruakhali and PM Khali are neighbouring unions among 10 unions under Cox's Bazar Sadar upazila. The Baruakhali River separates them.
The upazila headquarters is only eight to 10 kilometres away from the river. Normally, it would take 25 to 30 minutes to reach Cox's Bazar Sadar from the two unions, if there was a bridge on the river.
In the absence of a bridge on the river, about 20,000 to 25,000 residents of several villages on the bank of the river have to travel extra 25 kilometres to 30 kilometres on the highway via Ramu crossing to reach the upazila town. It takes about two hours extra time.
Besides, transportation cost of supplying salt and seasonal fruits produced in the coastal villages to the upazila headquarters or other parts of the country goes up owing to the poor communication system.
Local people have been demanding for long for constructing a bridge on the Baruakhali-PM Khali part of the river for easy communication.
If Baruakhali-PM Khali Link Bridge is constructed, two thirds of the people of Baruakhali, a portion of Rashid Nagar union and some parts of Joarianala union under Ramu upazila will have to travel 10 to 15 kilometres less to communicate with the Cox's Bazar upazila headquarters. It will save about one hour time to travel.
Saimum Sarwar Komol, lawmaker for Sadar-Ramu constituency, has recently laid the foundation stone of the Baruakhali-PM Khali link road.
Buoyed by this, the residents of Baruakhali and its adjacent areas have been setting up the 3,300-feet long and 12-feet wide link road at the designated site for the bridge.
They have been doing the work voluntarily in the hope of getting the bridge, which would rid them of long-sufferings.
Shawkat Belal, president of Baruakhali-PM Khali Link Bridge Implementation Committee, said, "Baruakhali is a coastal union. The people living on the banks of the river have been suffering for long, as there is no bridge on the river. In the face of local people's demand, the foundation stone of the link road has been laid recently."
He said the local people have been participating in constructing the approach road with voluntary labour with the hope that this will prompt the authorities for quick implementation of the bridge.
He added that giving voluntary labour for their benefit would set an example in Cox's Bazar.
Md Fazlul Haque, a member of Baruakhali Union Parishad who is also involved with the link road implementation committee, said, more than 100 people of Baruakhali Baro Chowdhury Para, Chhoto Chowdhury Para, Nanna Miah Para, Ultakhali and Adarsha Gram led by Mohammad Islam are giving voluntary labour on shifts beating drums.
Kaiserul Haque Jewel, chairman of Cox's Bazar Sadar upazila parishad said the people of Baruakhali have set an example of working unitedly for overcoming their own sufferings.
The construction of Baruakhali-PM Khali link bridge is the need of the hour, he said, adding that the upazila parishad will extend all possible cooperation in this regard.
AHM Mahfuzur Rahman, Cox's Bazar Sadar Upazila Nirbahi Officer said there is a possibility of starting the construction of the bridge at Baruakhali-PM Khali link point on Baruakhali River by the end of the current fiscal year.