Turag gets a new lease of life |
A project taken up by Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) for making the Turag river navigable and wider has been completed, and the contractor for the job is planning to officially conclude its engagement on Sunday, when the chairman of BIWTA is scheduled to visit the site.
BIWTA appointed a dredging company to excavate the river bed and push back the river banks at certain points.
Besides, BIWTA also ordered sand traders to excavate the sand they had dumped on the riverbed, choking the major channel for releasing floodwater from the northern part of the capital.
The contractor of the project was supposed to make the river at least 400 feet wide and dredge the riverbed raised by the earth and sand dumped by the sand traders for years hampering smooth navigation. But at the end of the project the contractor could not maintain the desired width of the river at every point. It could only increase the width on an average of 12 feet although the target was to widen the river more. According to the contractor, obstructions created by the sand traders is the reason for not having the job completed as planned.
While the work of the project was going on, Assistant Director of BIWTA Md Mobarak Hossain told The Daily Star that the dredging would help make the river navigable and wider, returning it to its original shape.
Mantasa Dredging Ltd, the contractor, made the river up to 20 feet wider at some points but the average increase in width did not reach the target.
Azmal Khan, owner of the company, said during the project period that they were assigned to keep the river at least 400 feet wide, a target which they could not maintain at every point due to sand traders' intrusion.
"Just under Aminbazar bridge, we have to remove sand from no less than 200 feet of the river bed, as the river is filled up heavily there," Azmal observed at the beginning of the project.
"After the project is completed there will be a 150 feet wide river bank starting from the flood protection embankment," he said at the time.
During a visit to the site while the dredging was going on on one side of the river, on the opposite bank the sand traders were seen filling up some new areas to facilitate unloading of sand from cargo boats. "They are disturbing us. They do not want us to carry out the work properly," Azmal said at the time.
He noted that if they could finish their work, not only the river would be recovered but BIWTA would also make profit through leasing out the riverbanks to the sand traders as well.
Elaborating on the payment system, Azmal said BIWTA would not pay them for the job, rather they would pay BIWTA.
"As per the contract, we will pay BIWTA 15 paisa per square feet of clay we remove," said an official of Mantasa Dredging Ltd, adding that they would make profit by selling the clay to a third party.
At the time of the visit they had already paid BIWTA Tk 45,000 for 3,00,000 square feet of clay, he said.