A newly constructed bridge in Rupandehi pictured on Saturday. Photo: Binod Pariyar/ Republica
RUPANDEHI, Nov 10: Rupandehi, Kapilbastu and Nawalparasi have given top priority to construction of concrete bridges. The three districts have already completed five such bridges while 51 are under construction. According to the office of the road division, Butwal, the bridges have been designed to widen the road network in the villages and towns. Among the three districts, most of the bridges are being built in Rupandehi. The development has quite elated the locals, who are highly suspicious about timely completion of other projects.
"There are many other projects which are underway. What generally happens is that the contractor leaves the work midway and the government officials simply stay quiet about it," said a local businessman from Kapilbastu, requesting anonymity. "They hand over the project to the one who offers them the maximum commission. There's foul play even before the project kicks off," he added.
He, however, expressed pleasure over the completion of five bridges, 'which will change the economy of the region'.
Among the recently constructed bridges is Tinau Bridge over Tinau River. It connects Devinagar to Buddhanagar and benefits thousands of commuters and passengers. The cost of construction of the 112-meter long bridge was Rs 110 million. According to the locals, their long awaited dream has come true with the completion of the bridge.
Another bridge that came in operation recently is Durganagar Bridge built over Danav River at a cost of over Rs 60 million. This 120-meter long bridge was also much awaited dream of the locals.
According to Jagat Khadka of Durganagar, the new bridge is going to make it easy for everyone but will greatly benefit farmers and traders.
"Farmers are now going to make big profit from their production. Earlier, in the lack of proper transportation service they had no choice but to sell off their vegetables and crops for a throw-away price," he said. "But now, when you have a means to take the produce to the market, you don't have to compromise on the price," he added.
Khadka himself is thinking to expand his business in the view of new bridge and widening of the road network. He says that the new environment has encouraged businesspersons like him. "The bridges have made us feel different. When you have easy access to market, your investments are almost guaranteed," he stated.
Another bridge that got the finishing touches recently is the Hatbazar Bridge also over Tinau Bridge. This bridge is 102.2 meters long and was built at a cost of Rs 60.7 million.
Lokaha Bridge has also been completed. The project was handed over to the contractor for this 26 meters long bridge for Rs 40.8 million, according to the office of the road division.
According to Santa Thapaliya of Lokaha village, the new bridge has brought schools, colleges and hospitals nearer for the locals. "When there was no bridge, we had to go to the towns through a very long route. We had been demanding for it since very long; and now it has materialized," she said.
People in Tutahawa area are quite happy. The newly constructed 31.2 meters long Tutahawa Bridge has linked them to other parts of the district.
While the new bridges have become a great relief to the people, the pace of construction of other bridges is very slow. And the road division admits it. According to Chief of the division office Meghraj Marasani, there is a need to extend the deadline of almost all the projects. "We have been pressuring the contractors. And yet, the progress is slow," he said. "In almost all of those projects, there is a need to extend the deadline," he added.
Marasani further stated that among the 51 bridges under construction, 36 are supposed to be completed earlier. "Those 36 are in high priority and are expected to be completed within this fiscal year," he said.
Meanwhile, Krishna Bahadur Kunwar, engineer at the road division office of Butwal, claimed that the progress of the project is not as slow as being perceived. "There are many roads which are under direct supervision of the provincial government. Some are being looked after by the local government," he said. "I would like to say that the progress of those projects is not too slow."