RAUTAHAT, Aug 27: Locals have accused Pappu Construction for Saturday’s boat capsize in Lalbakaiya River of Rautahat. At least two people were killed and three are missing. Locals said the contractor’s failure to complete the construction of a bridge over the Lalbakaiya River on time forced people to use boat to cross the river so the contractor was also responsible for the accident.
“Had the contractor completed the work on time, we would not have had to rely on boats. This incident would not have happened at all,” said Bhuwaneshwar Prasad Chandrabanshi, ward chairman of Rautahat-4. Then Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had laid the foundation for the bridge over the Lalbakaiya River on November 15, 2014. The contractor was supposed to complete the bridge within three years.
As per the contract, the bridge was supposed to be complete in June 2017. But construction of the bridge, whose total cost has been estimated at Rs 160.7 million, is still incomplete due to the contractor’s negligence, locals blamed.
Ward chairman Chandrabanshi said the government should take action against the contractor for the latter is also responsible for Saturday’s tragedy.
Locals and other commuters are forced to rely on risky mode of transportation to cross the river. However, the government has shown lack of empathy to their plight.
Deputy Mayor Kiran Thakur of Gaur Municipality also came down heavily on Pappu Construction. “If the government is really concerned about lives of the locals, it should take stern action against the contractor for their negligence,” he said.
Likewise, Shambh Shah, youth leader of Nepal Communist Party and a local of Gaur, said the government should question the proprietor of Pappu Construction on why they did not complete their works on time.
Saturday’s incident is not the first case of boat capsize in Bakaiya and Bagmati rivers of the district. Boat capsize in Bagmati on August 26, 2012, killed four people while five were presumed dead as their bodies were not found.
Likewise, another boat capsize happened on Aug 22, 2014 in Bagmati. Out of the sixty people caught in the capsize, 58 were rescued by police and locals while the remaining two lost their lives.
A boat capsize in Lalbakaiya River five years ago also killed three people. Although repeated incidents of boat capsize prompted initiation of the construction of the bridge, the process has remained sluggish.
Following Saturday’s boat capsize, search for the missing is still ongoing. The bodies of two women were recovered on Sunday. Three others, including a child, are still unaccounted for.