A tangled web: 11 law enforcement units in charge of Padma Bridge
A day after Padma Bridge was opened, two young men died in a motorcycle accident on the bridge on Sunday (June 26, 2022).
In addition to being branded as one of the many "firsts" in regards to the long-cherished Padma Bridge, the accident brought with it a baffling challenge – which law enforcement unit will be investigating this?
Turns out there are as many as 11 law enforcement units in charge of the 6.15km long Padma Bridge.
Starting from the structure's concrete, the water below it, the land below the water, the roads and highways on either side, the rail line running across, to the activities surrounding the mega structure – Padma Bridge has been carved up like a fish into several jurisdictions.
After Sunday's accident, The Daily Star called the newly-opened Padma Bridge (North) police station. When the police station was unreachable, the reporter contacted Munshiganj police.
Additional superintendent of police in Munshiganj, Sumon Deb, told The Daily Star that they learnt the accident happened between the 26th and 27th pillars, and therefore the accident does not fall within their jurisdiction. It's supposed to be overseen by the Padma Bridge (South) police station. Deb helpfully recommended that they be contacted instead.
The newly opened Padma Bridge (South) police station falls in Shariatpur district. So, when that station too was unreachable, just like its northern counterpart, our reporter called Shariatpur police.
SM Mizanur Rahman, additional superintendent of police of Shariatpur district's Naria circle, said that the site of the accident is such that it does not fall within the boundaries of Shariatput. It is under the jurisdiction of Madaripur district's Shibchar police station.
He too helpfully suggested that Madaripur police be contacted.
And so, Madaripur's Shibchar highway police station's officer-in-charge Gazi Md Sakhawat Hossain was contacted. He was quick to point out that since the accident happened on top of the bridge and not on land, it has to be investigated by Padma Bridge (South) police station.
Pillar number 1 to 16 straddle Munshiganj district and are supposedly under the Padma Bridge (North) police station.
Pillar number 17 to 31 fall under Madaripur's Shibchar. From pillar number 32 to 42, the land belongs to Shariatpur district. However, the span of the bridge between pillars 17 and 42 are supposed to be overseen by the Padma Bridge (South) police station, The Daily Star was told.
However, their responsibility ends at the edge of Padma Bridge – everything below the concrete is part of the river and therefore under the jurisdiction of the River Police.
As Shariatpur district's Majhirghat River Police's officer-in-charge confirmed, if anything happens underneath the section of the bridge between pillars 17 and 42, it is indeed their responsibility.
For them, however, the river begins at pillar number 17 – the air and water below pillars 1 to 16 need to be supervised by Munshiganj's Mawa River Police.
This super-complex math problem does not end here. If any accident happens at the point where the Padma Bridge meets the highway, it is under the jurisdiction of the highway police. For such incidents, the case will be lodged with the district police, while the Criminal Investigation Department will investigate the crime scene.
For the Padma Bridge project, Bangladesh Army is in charge of providing all forms of technical and security support.
On the other hand, as an elite force, if Rab gets any information about crime happening there – on, over, under, or around the bridge, they will be able to conduct drives they deem necessary.
In that case, part of the responsibility falls with Rab-11. Rab-11 oversees Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Lakshmipur, Noakhali, Chandpur and Dhaka district's Nababganj and Dohar.
However, pillar number 17 onwards, they have to hand over the baton to Rab-8, which oversees Barishal, Barguna, Patuakhali, Rajbari, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bhola, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Shariatpur and Madaripur.
The Padma Bridge railway is supposed to be operational between March and June next year. In that case, if there is any accident concerning the rail line, that will be overseen by the railway police.
Dhaka Railway police station's officer-in-charge Mazharul Haque confirmed as much. He told our reporters that the rail line itself and 10 feet of space on either side of the rail line will be under the jurisdiction of railway police.
Up until the time when a new railway police station can be established, Dhaka railway police will be in charge.
Now all that are left to consider are the air and sky above Padma Bridge.