JHAPA, Aug 11: While laying the foundation of Mechi bridge in Bhadrapur of Jhapa district seven years ago, the then Minister for Physical Planning and Infrastructure Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar had declared that he would either complete the construction of the bridge within three years or leave politics.
Since then, the locals have witnessed such programs of laying the foundation of the same bridge time and again. Yet, the Mechi bridge is yet to be constructed even now, much to the dismay of the locals.
“We were hoping that the completion of the bridge would bring us some respite,” said Gopal Shrestha, a local of Bhadrapur bazar. “Though the bridge was supposed to get the final touches long ago, we are still waiting for its completion even after seven years.”
The first announcement of the construction of the Mechi bridge by the government dates back to 51 years. The bridge stands as a symbol of the government's slack pace of work.
Successful construction of the bridge is expected to boost economic activities of the locals. The bridge would significantly boost trade with the southern neighbor, India. However, the locals have been facing lots of hardship due to the delay in completion of the bridge. They still have to risk their lives every monsoon by relying on boat to cross the river.
“We are forced to depend on boats for transportation in lack of bridge. That is the only means of crossing the river for us and that too is not possible during the floods, which are frequent these days,” said Gana Basnet of Bhadrapur-2. As locals of western VDCs of the district mostly depend on markets of nearby Indian towns to buy goods of daily necessities, they are faced with lots of problems when the means of crossing the river are not available.
“We wouldn't have faced such problems had the government completed the construction of Mechi bridge on time. They already laid the foundation for the bridge three times, considering which the progress is really shameful,” said Pralahad Malik, another local.