TIKAPUR, August 29: The bridge connecting the far-western region to the rest of the country has started to wear down due to lack of timely repair. The Karnali bridge built in 1993 has become visibly fragile due to lack of proper maintenance in more than two decades since it came into operation.
The bridge which was constructed by a Japanese company named Kawasaki Heavy Industries came into operation in 1994. The single-pillar, cable-stayed suspension bridge with a single tower in the center has become a tourist destination in the far west. But various components of the bridge such as nuts and bolts have started loosen and the supporting wires have started to break off.
In December 2004, the bridge had sustained damages due to clashes between the then Maoists rebels and the Nepal Army. The bullet marks can still be seen to this day.
The bridge lies along the Mahendra Highway in the border of Kailali and Bardiya districts. The degrading condition of the kilometer-long bridge has not drawn the attention of the concerned bodies.
Although the bridge falls under the responsibility of Nepalgunj Road Division Office, the authorities say they are simply undertaking normal maintenance of the bridge instead of the thorough repair which the bridge is in need of.
Arjun Kumar Bam, chief of the Road Division Office, said they have not been allocated budget for the repair of the bridge. “We are only looking after the security of the bridge. We are not authorized to do anything more than general repair,” said Bam. However, he said he has informed the problem to the higher authorities.
The office has assigned one supervisor alongside seven workers to look after the vehicular movement on the bridge. Besides that, they also maintain cleanliness and try to minimize other damages.
The locals have started to express their disappointment regarding the lack of maintenance of the bridge. They say that there might be some major mishap if the bridge is not repaired in time. Laba Shahi, general secretary of Federation of Lamki Chuha Chambers of Commerce and Industries said, “This is a result of government failing to maintain the bridge after constructing it.”