Over two dozen people have lost their lives in two wards of Byas Rural Municipality in Darchula while crossing rivers in the past 27 years.

According to Byas Rural Municipality Spokesperson and Byas Rural Municipality Ward 2 Chair Dhiransingh Budhathoki, 26 persons have lost their lives while crossing rivers using tuins (cable bridges) in wards 2 and 4 of Byas Rural Municipality.

It is important to note that former prime minister KP Sharma Oli, about six years ago, had signed a decision reading that all cable bridges and other types of temporary bridges would be replaced with suspension bridges. Surprisingly, even after the loss of so many lives and such a long time after the decision, there is no sign that the tuins will be replaced anytime soon.

Just recently, 30-year-old Jayasingh Dhami of Byas Rural Municipality, died when he fell into the Mahakali river while crossing the river through a tuin.

"Though the locals here have long been asking authorities to replace the existing tuins with suspension bridges, neither the provincial government nor the central government has heeded our demand," said Ward Chair Budhathoki. "It's sad to share that we have to take help of tuin to cross the river and reach the district headquarters to receive services from government offices based in the headquarters," he lamented.

Presently, there are 10 tuins in operation over the Mahakali River. Besides, people in the hilly region in the province are still bound to use temporary bridges to cross rivers and rivulets risking their lives. The government, however, has claimed to have replaced 27 of 31 tuins in the province with suspension bridges.

"We have called for proposals to replace tuins at 12 places on the border with India, but the Indian side has given us permission for replacements at six places only citing security concerns," said senior division engineer Gauri Kumar Shrestha of Dolidar under Local Infrastructure Development Department.

"Construction of suspension bridge has finished 90 per cent in Baku and Badu villages of Darchula, while 30 per cent of work on suspension bridge construction has finished in Barati and Mal," Shrestha informed, adding that replacing the tuins with suspension bridge had taken time due to the long and complex process of acquiring land for the same on the Indian side.

"Construction of the four suspension bridges will be over by the end of this year," said the engineer.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 4 2021, of The Himalayan Times.