Death-trap-bridge over Badulu Oya!
By Eunice Ruth and Ruwan Kumara
The suspension bridge over Badulu Oya, which connects the Thaldena and Galgelanda villages, is currently in an extremely dilapidated condition as it has not been repaired for the past few years after construction, said the residents of the villages.
More than 200 families of Thaldena and Kukurumahantenna and other neighbouring villages which belong to Meegahakiula Divisional Secretary’s area are suffering without a proper way to cross the Badulu Oya. W.M. Kalubanda, a resident of Galgelanda village told Ceylon Today that, not only the people of his village but also all people, from the surrounding villages, including school children use this bridge, to pass the Badulu Oya.
The use of this bridge on rainy days is more than on normal days, as it will be easy for the public to reach their paddy fields which are near Badulu Oya, he added.
“Even though, it has been more than 20 years since the bridge was built, till today no authorities have renovated or even visited the bridge. Due to this neglect, currently the bridge is in such a dilapidated condition that the risk of using this bridge is higher. The people suffer a lot without having a proper means to go about,” said Kalubanda.
Another resident of the village, D.M. Lokumenike, noted that the bridge is totally dilapidated and even the wooden planks of the bridge have decayed. “Already some planks are broken and at present, we are managing that with some tree branches, she said”. She also pointed that not only the wooden planks, but also the cables on both sides of the bridge are broken. “Sometimes, while stepping on to the bridge, the planks of the bridge fall down and the public are now scared to use the bridge. However, due to lack of other means of transportation, the people are forced to use this bridge.
The bridge can collapse at any time and there is a life-threat to all the village people who are using this bridge,” said Lokumenike. R.M. Samarapala said: “The bridge, and the steps, which we use to get on to the bridge, are broken and anyone who uses it can get injured at any time. Mainly, the village has no facility to fix a light on the bridge location and people who use this bridge at night are even more scared of this condition.
They are unable to notice the gaps between the wooden planks”. He requested the authorities to repair the bridge and even if they can’t repair the bridge, at least to fix lights on both sides of the bridge which will reduce the risks while using the bridge at night.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, a Member of the Meegahakiula Pradeshiya Sabha, Rangana Samarakoon, noted that they have informed several times to the Provincial Council and the related Government authority, regarding the condition of the bridge. “They have informed us that they have made allocated funds for the renovation of the bridge. However, the commencing of the renovation process is getting delayed and it has been a big issue for everyone, he said. He further said that, with the help of Government they will renovate the bridge soon to save the lives of people.
Anurangani Weerasinghe, Assistant Planning Director of Meegahakiula Divisional Secretariat said that, this bridge is 200 metres long and it needs a huge amount of funds for the renovation process. “Now, for more than two years the bridge is in the dilapidated condition that it is in today and by considering the danger to the lives of the people we have requested the higher authorities to renovate the bridge.
However, even after submitting several proposals for the renovation, still we haven’t received the approval and fund allocation,” she said. “We are also concerned about the lives of the people and we try our maximum to renovate the bridge as soon as possible,” said Weerasinghe.