The destruction of the bridges connecting Raqqa City centre to the southern banks of the Euphrates causes locals immense hardship.
Although ISIS militants have been soundly defeated in their former capital of Raqqa City, life for ordinary Syrians continues to be beset by difficulties. Much of these new difficulties stem from the fact that the city suffered immense damage during the battles to liberate it. Nearly the entirety of Raqqa City centre has been destroyed. Similarly, much of the schools, water mains, electricity lines and road networks are also non-operational.
The destruction of the city’s infrastructure also includes the bridges that connect the city centre at the north of the Euphrates with the suburbs and countryside in the south. These bridges were either blown up by ISIS militants to hold back the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or the International Coalition looking to limit the ISIS movements in the area. The end result, however, is all the same for ordinary Syrians who now have to resort to boats to travel across the river.
It is estimated that the riverpaths are used by 3,000 Syrians every day. Many of the boats used here are low-quality and too small to accommodate the loads they have to carry. The combination of high traffic and low quality has already resulted in a number of accidents, including one last week when 10 people died after their boat sank. For many Syrians who remained in the city, the situation is eerily similar to the fates of many displaced Syrians who died trying to reach Europe via the sea.
The situation has not only caused unnecessary deaths and difficulties but also delayed the clearance of rubble and debris from the city due to lack of access. They hope that the local authorities can fix the bridges without delay.
The Raqqa City Civilian Council, however, faces an uphill tasks. It is estimated that rebuilding the infrastructure, including schools, water pipes, power networks, roads and bridges, will take about $10 million annually, an amount the Council simply does not have. Although small reconstruction projects have begun in and around the city, rebuilding more complex infrastructure like bridges will take considerably more resources.