Bridge construction in limbo for six years

Surkhet, January 2

The under-construction bridge over the Bheri river on the Bhurigaun-Talpani road section at Ranighat of Surkhet has been left in limbo for the past six years, thanks to negligence on the part of the contractor.

As per the contract, Pappu/Malla JV should have completed the bridge about three years ago, but three years after the expiry of the stipulated deadline, the bridge is nowhere near completion.

It’s important to note that Pappu/Malla JV has been on the government’s blacklisted contractors for failing to complete development projects on time.

About six years ago, the contractor company had signed a contract with Bridge Division under the Road Department. Though the contract had stipulated that the bridge would be completed in three years, only 25 per cent of the work has finished in six years.

What is worse, its construction has been stalled for the past two years now.

Delay in the construction of the bridge has affected a large population in Talpani, Sungurkhal, Shreechaur, Hariharpur, Ranighat, Harre, Lekhgaun and other places of Surkhet.

“The villages on the other end of the under-construction bridge are known for the production of potatoes, turmeric, vegetables and other crops but as there is no bridge over the river, it’s been really difficult to take the produce to the market in Birendranagar,” said local Ratna Bahadur Budha, adding they are using boats to cross the river.

The tardy bridge construction has also been a great inconvenience for high school students who are forced to rent out rooms in Birendranagar for education.

“The school is not very far from the village but as there is no bridge and crossing the river is a hassle every time we have to commute between the school and the village, hence the need to spend extra money on renting apartments in Birendranagar itself,” said a plus-two student, adding that the school could be within walking distance had there been a bridge.

Worse, the lack of bridge has also been the bane of villagers when there is an emergency. “As there is no transportation due to the lack of bridge, we are compelled to carry patients all the way to the hospital, which has cost the lives of patients many times,” said Budha.

On his part, Physical Infrastructure Minister Khadak Bahadur Khatri of Karnali Province pledged to take initiatives to finish the bride as early as possible.

“There are preparations to resume construction even by calling another tender,” Khatri said. Parliament member Nawaraj Rawat, on his part, sought action against the contractor involved in ditching the project.