HAILAKANDI, Aug 27 - Over one lakh people of Hailakandi district are facing extreme difficulties due to the closure of the 50-year-old Matijuri bridge over Katakhal river. The bridge was closed in April after a major crack was seen in the middle of the bridge. The State Road Board division of the PWD has closed the bridge for traffic as well as pedestrians due to the ongoing repair work. The repairing of the damaged area began on August 18 last and may be completed within the next couple of days, said Rabin Kumar Das, Assistant Executive Engineer of the State Road Board division in Hailakandi, who is the incharge of the repairing work. He said that Rs 16 lakh has been released for the repairing of the damaged 36-square metre area of the bridge. He exuded confidence that the bridge will be safe for another ten years after repairing.
To complete the repairing work as soon as possible, 25 mechanical engineers have been engaged, Das said. It was constructed by Gammon India 50 years back.
Most of the people of Hailakandi are dependent on this bridge while going to Assam University, National Institute of Technology (NIT), Silchar Medical College and Hospital, Polytechnic, Veterinary Hospital etc. Matijuri road is connected to Silchar via Hailakandi. The people opted for this road journey to Silchar via Dwarbond because of the scenic beauty on both sides of the road. The bridge has utmost importance considering the needs of the university goers and patients from Hailakandi.
Due to the closure of the bridge for repairing work, the people particularly the students are facing a tough time to cross the river in this rainy season. The two engine boats of the Inland Water Transport Department with a capacity of 160 passengers each have been placed alongwith two country boats for crossing the river, informed Das.
The people of the locality have demanded that the timings of the boats should be extended upto 10 pm. They also alleged that the engine boats are defective and may cause a major accident anytime in the middle of the river.
However, the people of the locality have demanded the construction of a new bridge as the existing bridge is not suitable for vehicular movement. Das informed that the department is preparing a detailed project report (DPR) for a new bridge in the area which would be submitted soon.