Myanmar’s bridge at Tambru puts Rohingyas at risk

Abdul Aziz, Cox's Bazar
Published : 01:30, Jan 11, 2019 | Updated : 01:30, Jan 11, 2019

Bangladesh-Myanmar ties may get tenser as the neighbouring country is constructing a conduit, which it describes as a bridge, right along the Tambru channel which will put the Rohingya camps at the no man’s land at great risk along with Bangladeshi territories.
Although the bridge is inside the Myanmar boundaries, heavy rainfall during monsoon will cause landslides which will significantly damage areas in Bangladesh.
In fact, the Rohingya camp at the no man’s land between Myanmar and Bangladesh is at the risk of being completely submerged. Moreover, around 10,000 people living in the border areas and Konarpara village run the risk of being flooded as water level rises in monsoon.
However, the foreign ministry has been notified of the impending crisis, confirmed Cox's Bazar deputy commissioner.
“I have just come to know about the bridge being built over Tambru. The foreign ministry has been notified of the matter,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rohingyas who have taken refugees at the Tambru claim that this is a ploy on the Myanmar government's part to run them out of there. They say that a conduit is unnecessary as there are no roads over the channel. According to them, it is just another strategy to ensure that the land is flooded in the upcoming monsoon season.
This is not the first time Myanmar has tried to sabotage the refugees at Tambru though. Their security forces have repeatedly heightened its presence and fired into the territory sparking fears among the Rohingya people stranded there.
Bangladesh shares a total of 271 km of border with its neighbour Myanmar among which 208 km is the land border and 63 km is water.
After the Myanmar military-led ethnic cleansing drives in Rakhine, they fled to Bangladesh and around 5000 of them took refuge in the no man’s land between Myanmar’s Tambru and Bangladesh’s Konapara located in Bandarban's Naikhyongchari.
“We took refuge at the no man’s land one and a half years ago at the face of persecution from the Myanmar government," said Dil Mohammad, a leader of the Rohingya camp.
He added that Myanmar has had their eyes on the camp for a while and have intimidated them in many ways.
According to Mohammad, the bridge was a gateway for Myanmar to wipe out the Rohingya population in the Tambru camp. He called for Bangladesh and International bodies to interfere to avoid the crisis.
Rohingya leader Mohammad Arif repeated the same thing saying that the bridge will hamper the regular flow of water in the lake during monsoon.
"In addition to the Rohingya camps being drowned, the agricultural lands in Konarpara village and adjoining areas in Bangladesh will be flooded," Arif said.
On the other hand, Nurul Absar, a resident of Naikhyangchari's Ghumghum area reiterated that it was a ploy to do away with the Rohingyas.
"The bridge, being built inside Myanmar along the no man's land is not for any road. It's being built to block the water flow of the Tambru channel and consequently wipe out the Rohingyas," he said.
He added that not only Rohingyas but Bangladeshi people in that area will also suffer greatly"
"There are no roads but Myanmar is building a bridge over Tambru lake," said Ghumghum UP Chairman Md Jahangir.
He added although the bridge is within Myanmar, a majority of the channel falls within Bangladeshi territories. As a result, the villages are bound to be flooded.
In 2017 thousands of Rohingyas in Rakhine fled persecution from the Myanmar army and took refuge in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh government brought the refuges at residing at the Ghumghum border point to the Kutupalong and Balukhali camps in Cox’s Bazar.
However, the refuges at the no man’s land at Tambru border have not been re-located and the Myanmar government claiming that the land is their territory has been intimidating them continuously to remove them.