Seven years on, work on Sunkoshi bridge remains incompete

GAIGHAT: The construction of a bridge over the Sunkoshi River on the Katari-Okhaldhunga section of the Siddhicharan Highway is still incomplete, although it was started seven years ago.

Only three pillars have so far been erected. But, as per the agreement, the contractor was supposed to complete it within three years.

According to local residents, the work was delayed due to the negligence of contractors and government technicians involved in the project. The bridge is essential for the full-fledged operation of the highway, considered the backbone of development in the hilly region.

The bridge is estimated to support the traffic on the proposed Hilly Highway, connecting Bhojpur, Udayapur and Sindhuli districts to Kathmandu. Rs 130 million has been earmarked for the 170m-long and 5m-wide bridge. According to Arbinda Kumar Gupta, chief engineer for the project, about Rs 40 million has already been spent.

He said a big rock, which stood an obstacle in laying the foundation of the bridge, had delayed the work, forcing a modification of the design. "With all the resources in place, the bridge will be completed by August next year," he assured.

The road connecting Sunkoshi with Ghurmitar has been blacktopped while the one connecting Tokseghat to Okhaldhunga district headquarters has been gravelled. But the sections have not come to operation fully due to the delay in bridge construction.