Locals of Khotang forced to use longer route to reach Udayapur

Published On: June 6, 2019 05:30 AM NPT By: Daman Rai

KHOTANG, June 6: With the onset of monsoon, government authorities have removed a temporary Bailey bridge over the Sunkoshi River in Foksingtar of Khotang district due to the rising level of water.

The removal of the bridge has left Khotang almost isolated from the rest of the country except for the only another alternative route which is much lengthier.

The Bailey bridge at Foksingtar connects Khotang with Udayapur. This bridge is often removed in monsoon and comes into operation only after the end of monsoon.

With this, the transportation along the Diktel-Gaighat route has been halted for six months. This has compelled the locals of Khotang to use the lengthy route of Diktel-Halesi-Jayram-Ghurmi-Katari to reach the district headquarters of Udayapur.

Pashupati Gyawali, divisional engineer of the Diktel Road Project Office (DRPO), informed Republica that the temporary Bailey bridge connecting Khotehang-9 of Khotang with Rautamai Rural Municipality-5 of Udayapur was removed on Monday.

Currently, people are using Jayaram-based Dudhkoshi bridge to reach Kathmandu, Itahari, Dharan, Biratnagar among other places.

Locals here are obliged to rely on the temporary Bailey bridge in lack of concrete bridge. Manoj Bajimaya, general secretary of Khotang Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says the removal of the Bailey bridge has increased the cost of construction materials in the district.

"As the construction materials must be brought through the lengthy route of Katari and Ghurmi, their prices have been hiked," said General Secretary Bajimaya. It has been four years since this Bailey bridge has been used as an alternative means to reach Khotang.

It costs around Rs 8 million to remove and again replace the bridge every year.

The deadline for the construction of a concrete bridge over Sunkoshi along the Diktel-Gaighat road section has already expired but so far only its foundation has been laid. This bridge will connect Khotehang-9 of Khotang and Rautamai Rural Municipality-5 of Udayapur. The deadline for the construction of the bridge expired more than a month ago.

Kailash Shah, divisional engineer of Sector 1 of the Road Division Project, informed Republica that only 30% of the work has been completed so far.

Gauri Parvati YP JV was handed the contract of the project worth Rs 196 million. The locals have time and again vented their ire against the sluggish construction of the bridge.

Even though the project was signed on April 5, 2013, the construction work kicked off only in 2016. The deadline expired in April 2019. Last year, lawmaker Bishal Bhattarai had filed a complaint against the construction company with the Home Ministry for the delay in work. He also demanded blacklisting the company. However, that did not happen. The company then started the work.

The snail-paced work of the bridge has also grabbed the attention of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). According to the anti-graft body, it sent a letter to the company on January 16, 2018 to speed up the work.

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