KATHMANDU, August 24: The Federation of Contractor's Association of Nepal (FCAN) has claimed that the contractor is not responsible for the damage in Jabdighat Bridge over Babai River in Bardiya.
Organizing a press meet in Kathmandu on Wednesday, acting president of the federation, Bishnu Bhai Shrestha, said that the contractor has not made any mistake. Former president of FCAN, Jayram Lamichhane, echoed Shrestha.
Speaking at the press meet, Hari Narayan Rauniyar, proprietor of Pappu Construction Pvt Ltd, which built the bridge, claimed that the bridge sustained damage due to floods two weeks ago. “We have built the bridge as per the design provided by the Department of Roads,” he claimed.
FCAN also said that its attention has been drawn toward blames put on the contractor for the damage caused to the bridge. “Contractor is not the culprit behind bridge failure,” a statement distributed by FCAN in the press conference read.
FCAN organized the press meet on the day a probe team formed by the Department of Roads (DoR) to look into the damage sustained by the bridge started its works. The team led by Ayodhya Prasad Shrestha, chief Mid-Western Regional Roads Directorate, started its work on Wednesday. The DoR formed the investigation team last week.
Dayakant Jha, the spokesperson for the department, said it was not appropriate for the federation to organize press meet on the day the probe team began its work.
Construction of the bridge completed in July last year and it was brought into operation immediately. But it has not been officially handed over to the government. “We have not released final payment to the contractor. Also, the liability period of a minimum of a year has not even started,” Spokesperson Jha said.
The department stopped release of final payment to the contractor after a technical audit by National Vigilance Center found at least three major defects in bridge construction. “The distance between poles (referred to as piles in engineering) was deviated by 1-9 feet and design was not followed duly. Similarly, gabion wires on the upstream river bank for river training works were not properly filled, and an approach road on the right of the bridge was not compacted as specified in the design,” the center's report for Fiscal Year 2015/16 reads.
The bridge has 17 piles and two of them have sunk.
The center handed over its report to the DoR, asking for a technical test to confirm whether the bridge was safe for use. The bridge's handover was delayed after the construction company refused to
“We had suggested the Nepalgunj-based division office to build bridge on well foundation instead of piles (long poles used for foundation). But our suggestion was rejected. We were asked to follow the specified design,” Rauniyar said in the press meet. He further argued that a pillar of the bridge sank due to wrong hydrology data and blockage of natural water flow due to sand deposition.
The FCAN statement also states that the contractor had reported the DoR about potential threats, but the latter paid no heed.
“My contracting firm is not responsible for the bridge collapse as the defect liability period has already ended. The bride was completed more than a year ago in July 2016. Still the DoR has not released final payment,” Rauniyar added.