Duminnegama Bridge Falling Apart

By Eunice Ruth and Sajith Gayan | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 19 2021
Focus Duminnegama Bridge Falling Apart

By Eunice Ruth and Sajith Gayan 

The bridge in Duminnegama, which connects Duminnegama village and Medawachchiya town has been in a dilapidated condition for several months and even after informing the relevant authorities about the condition, no one has paid attention or came forward to renovate it, said the residents of Duminnegama. The residents said that the bridge was built in 1920 and it is a 100-year old bridge. At the beginning it was a strong bridge and currently it is in a dilapidated condition due to some man-made activities. 

Also, it is the only bridge which was there to connect Medawachchiya town and Duminnegama village. They also pointed out that the major reason behind the dilapidated condition of the bridge was due to the transportation of black stones using big tipper trucks. The businessmen who are engaged in black stone businesses use this bridge a lot to transfer black stones from here to another place. 

The Duminnegama village which belongs to Medawachchiya Divisional Secretariat Division is another poor village where residents lead a hard life with minimum facilities. There are about 137 families with an overall population of over 500 people. The livelihood of the innocent people of the village is agriculture and they have a tough land which is not suitable for farming. In order to reach hospital, school and other essential needs at Medawachchiya town, the residents have used this bridge and at present, it is in a dilapidated condition. 

The residents claimed that, for the past one year, the officials and authorities of Medawachchiya have taken away the only road and bridge from the usage of the village people, and it was given to the businessmen who engage in black stone businesses. Accordingly, at present there are five black stone quarries in and around Lindawewa, Duminnegama, and some other villages. More than 70 to 80 tipper trucks loaded with black stones cross the bridge every day. Due to this, at present, the Duminnegama Bridge, which has connected the village and the Medawachchiya town for nearly 100 years, is now in dilapidated condition and the danger of collapsing is high. 

The residents said that they have met and informed all the related authorities several times. But unfortunately, no one listened to the complaints of the residents and no one was interested in paying attention and resolving our problems by renovating the bridge. Speaking to a resident of Duminnegama, W. A. Jayaratne, noted that this bridge was built in 1920 and at present, many tipper trucks pass the bridge on a daily basis with heavy black stones. Now it has been a year since the beginning of this black stone transportation. He also said that, on a daily basis, more than 70 tipper trucks travel on this road, which has led to the dilapidated condition of the road. 

Even though the Rambewa authorities see it as a good thing, the results of continuous use of the bridge were very bad for us. The children use this bridge to go to school and the patients use this to reach the hospital. Damaging this road and bridge for personal reasons with tipper trucks is not fair at all and the responsible authorities should consider the residents and their needs before allowing others to use and damage the bridge. We have informed the authorities regarding everything. However, so far, no steps were taken and we think that the authorities were silenced because of the power, money and threats of the black stone business owners. 

“We request the responsible authorities to visit and inspect the bridge, without making decisions in the air conditioned rooms. We are going through a very bad situation and we need the help of authorities to renovate the bridge. We are even scared to use the bridge as it is in a condition where it can fall off at any moment”, said Jayaratne. He also requested the Government and the responsible authorities to help them by stopping the black stone business in Duminnegama. Another resident of the village, T. M. Somalatha said that this is the only way which connects the Medawachchiya town and our village, and sadly, it is also broken today. 

We have used this bridge for several generations and at present it was broken due to the black stone business. The bridge was continuously used for the transportation of black stones and it has damaged the bridge within a period of one month, where we have used it for 100 years without any damage. “Without this bridge, we will not be able to reach the town to fulfil our all needs. We kindly request the authorities to pay attention and take immediate action to renovate the bridge as well as help us by ending the black stone business,” said Somalatha. H. Wimalasena, a farmer of the village said that this bridge is the backbone of our village and at present we are slowly losing our assets. 

If the authorities and officials remain like this, without paying attention, soon this bridge will fall off. If that happens, we are the ones who will suffer a lot. We kindly request the Government to pay attention at least now, and take actions to renovate our bridge, said Wimalasena. Meanwhile, speaking to the Divisional Secretary of Medawachchiya, C. Malawaarachchi regarding the issue, she noted that they will take actions not to provide licences for the black stone business owners and she will take immediate actions to end the transportation of this black stones. Also, regarding the renovation of the bridge, she said that she will talk to the relevant officials and make a decision regarding the renovation.

By Eunice Ruth and Sajith Gayan | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 19 2021

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