Waiting for over 10 years, haor area residents of Bijoynagar upazila can finally see a ray of hope as the only road connecting the region to the Brahmanbaria district headquarters is nearing completion.
With nearly 3 lakh people, the upazila has remained isolated from the district headquarters as there was no road linking the areas.
The only ways into the town were a two-hour walk during the dry season and hitching boat rides during the remaining half of the year when the haor (backswamp) fills up with water.
The 9.5-kilometre road, once completed, will cut the journey to only 30 minutes from the marshy wetland.
Officials of Doly Construction-Infratech, the companies jointly constructing the road, said the project has been challenging as the site remains submerged during six months each year. Transporting construction material to the location was tough.
Asif Ahmed, engineer of the construction firm, said, "The work took longer than usual as we had to halt for six months every year due to waterlogging," he claimed.
However, the road is now visible as 90 percent of the work has been completed, instilling hope in the minds of locals.
In 2016, the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) took up construction of the road and three bridges at a cost of more than Tk123 crore.
Visiting the construction site recently, the Bijoynagar-Brahmanbaria road was found abuzz with activities.
Blocks have been dumped alongside the road to prevent erosion during monsoon. Besides, construction of three bridges is in full swing. Light vehicles are plying the completed stretch of the road.
Shahid Mia, a local, said, "This is not a mere road – it is a dream for us. I even gave soil from my land for the construction. This road will save us from walking for miles to the district town."
Bijoynagar residents said that the price of local land had gone up since construction began. Price of per decimal land has risen to Tk50,000, which was previously around Tk3,000.
Shahid Mia believes the price will increase further once the road is completed. "Therefore, people are now reluctant to sell their lands," he added.
Although the government declared Bijoynagar an upazila in 2010, locals have been demanding for the road way before that.
Monir Bhuiyan said he had grown up seeing his father and grandfathers demanding for the road.
"We struggled because of the poor communication. Even the sick or injured people could not be taken to the hospital for treatment in time. This road will change everything. Then we can even go get breakfast at the district town if we wish," he added.
Auto-rickshaw-puller Mobarak Hossain was running his three-wheeler on the completed stretch of the road. "A couple of years ago, it was not even in my wildest imagination to drive through this place."
Bijoynagar upazila LGED Executive Engineer Jamal Uddin said that the unfinished stretch of the road is around 500-600 metres long.
"We hope to complete it and the bridges by the end of 2021. Then it will be opened to all vehicles."