SINDHUPALCHOWK :The construction of Bailey bridge over Bhotekoshi River at the northern Tatopani border point has been delayed as the Department of Road (DOR) has opted for a tender process despite direction from the Minister for Home Affairs build the Bailey bridge in fast track.
The installation of the Bailey bridge over the river at Larcha is going to happen immediately as the contractors have received the tenure of three months. Locals have been compelled to cross the river by a temporary footbridge, taking risk of their lives, even as the Dashain and Tihar festivals are just around the corner.
The 70 meter-long motorable bridge along the Araniko Highway at Larcha was damaged by the landslide of July 23. The bridge was the only option for travelling. With the damage of the bridge, the highway has been blocked.
The DOR had supplied materials right away after the Minister for Home Affairs Janardan Sharma had directed installing a Bailey bridge immediately. Though the materials had been supplied within two weeks after the order, the construction of the bridge has been delayed after Dolakha district office the Department of Roads decided to go for a tender process.
“The contractors had received three months time to construct the bridge and the construction has just started. So, immediate completion is not possible,” said Sanjay Panthi, engineer at Division Road Office.
Panthi said that the bridge could be completed in third week of November. Bhagwati Construction Service signed an agreement with the DOR in the third week of July regarding the construction of Bailey bridge for Rs 20 million.
Panthi said that the agreement was done through the fast track. “It would have taken more time to get the contract if the DOR had gone through the regular process,” Panthi told Republica. “The DOR had no alternative than to open a tender.”
The contractor has just started to build the foundation. He claimed that the work had been delayed because of highway blockage and also the presence of huge stones in the construction area.
“The construction of Bailey bridge will not be completed in three months if the highway is obstructed by stones that fall because of landslide,” said Panthi.
The DOR has been found to be following a lengthy process. New pillars are being placed even though the foundation of old bridge is strong. The border pint could be reconnected with the highway if the Bailey bridge was installed on the existing foundation.
While engineer Panthi said that the DOR did not have Bailey bridge longer than 50 meters which is why they had to construct new foundation. He said, “To work on the old foundation, 70 meters Bailey bridge is needed and the department does not have it.” He accepted that if they had 70 meters long Bailey bridge, the construction would be completed within a month.
Locals are furious as the department chose a lengthy process despite the availability of an easy option. “We have to cross the river risking our lives even during festivals like Dashain and Tihar,” said Arjun Sapkota, a local.
Sapkota who had served as president in Nepal Truck Container Professional Association said that the festivals would be impacted as it was hard to transport goods without a proper bridge.
There are a footbridge and a ropeway to cross the Bhotekoshi River. Locals complain that the journey through these is risky and dangerous. Ropeway had been installed after structural failure was seen in the temporary iron bridge.