DHANGADHI, July 20Six days ago, two girls went missing after attempting to cross the Bahuli River through a makeshift bridge made of wooden logs, locally known as Sanghu. Bimala Kumari Bohora, 15, and Rinu Kumari Bohora, 9, of Surma Rural Municipality-2 were returning home from school when they got swept away by the river.
According to the locals, their bodies are yet to be recovered. But most people speculate that the children must have died. While the ministers in power never stop talking about change and development, children in the hill districts of Province 7 are still compelled to use tuins (improvised cable crossings) to go to school.
While assuming office for the first time as the country's Prime Minister (PM) on October 12, 2015, KP Oli had signed a deal, assuring everyone of replacing the dangerous tuins across the country with suspension bridges. Now, he has been elected as the PM for the second time but still many villages are relying on tuins to cross rivers and connect to other villages and districts.
"As tuins are riskier, we had built a makeshift bridge this time," said a local, Shanti Pujara Bohora, adding, "But that does not seem to be safe, either. It has been challenging for us to keep our children children's journey to school safe in the absence of a bridge." Every monsoon, the villagers are compelled to cross the Bahuli River with the help of tuins or Sanghus.
It's been a year and a half since the PM's promise, but tuins set up at 25 different places of Province 7 are yet to be replaced. Only seven bridges have been constructed in the far-western districts since then. Many people fall into the river every year while crossing rivers through tuins and Sanghus.Sabitra Joshi of Talkot-3 informed Republica that villagers are forced to put their lives at stake while crossing the Seti River in Dhamena Chirkitte of Bajhang. "Crossing the river by hanging on tuins and with loads of fodder and timber on our back is a compulsion for us," laments Joshi.
It's not that the locals have not tried to draw the attention of the authorities concerned toward this problem but their pleas were unheard. During the local elections, replacing tuins with bridges was an agenda for all candidates. However, the locals say, none of them have shown up after the elections.
Similarly, the locals of northern part of Darchula have been crossing the Mahakali River with the help of tuins. Villages here depend heavily on the Indian markets across the border. With hearts full of fear, people cross the river to go to the Indian markets. It is a compulsion for them to use tuins while visiting the district headquarters Khalanga for the supply of food and other essentials.
It is a serious problem for little children who use tuins to go to school, especially with heavy bags on their backs. Locals of Rapla, Sunsera, Dhaulakot, Huti Paipalchauri and Hikila of Darchula still use tuins.
A large number of people have lost their lives and many have gone missing in rivers after falling from tuins. But still their deaths are not registered, according to District Police Office, Darchula. In other seasons, people use boats to cross rivers but in monsoon it is not an option thanks to the swollen rivers. The situation is no different for the locals of Bajhang, Doti, Achham, Bajura, Baitadi and Achham.
(With the input of our district reporters Pushparaj Joshi/Kailali, Jagat Khadka/ Bajhnag, Prem Chunara/ Darchula)