January 30, 2018 02:30 AM NPT
Just one foundation pillar built in the past five years
KHOTANG, Jan 30: The construction of a bridge over Sunkoshi River at Phoksingtar, which links Khotang and Udayapur districts, has remained stalled for the past five years. The only visible progress made during the period is the construction of a foundation pillar.
The under-construction arch bridge, which lies along the Gaighat-Diktel Sagarmatha Highway, is supposed to be completed by April 15 this year. However, the locals complained that there hasn't been any progress despite the extension of the contract period by one year.
The contract worth Rs 196 million was awarded to Gauri Parwati JV. Project chief Arjun Aryal of the Department of Roads said that the construction works are ongoing at an unacceptable pace.
“The contractor is just completing leveling of the foundation in Udayapur side. However, in plain language, the progress is zero,” said Aryal. “Layers of hard rocks also caused the difficulty in digging the foundation. Works to assemble iron rods too were challenging,” he said.
Locals have blamed the delay on the negligence of the contractor. On the other hand, the contractor has blamed the delay to the changes in the design of the bridge and the lengthy process of obtaining permission for the changes. The original contract was four a four year period but the deadline was extended by one year after the contractor failed to complete the construction in the given timeframe. But the contractor is unlikely to complete the work even within the extended deadline.
“All they have done so far is established a labor camp in the site and erected a pillar. There hasn't been any other work in all these years,” said Ram Bahadur Raut, a local. Residents of the districts have time and again held protests over the delay.
The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has also shown its interest regarding the delay in the bridge construction. Organizing a press conference about two weeks ago, the CIAA urged the concerned authorities to speed up the construction works and not to delay it anymore.