SIRAHA, May 6: When the then Minister for Physical Planning and Construction, Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar laid the foundation stone of a bridge over the Mainabatti River in Siraha in 2010, as a part of a plan to construct seven bridges in the district, the people in the area were on cloud nine. They thought their long-cherished dream of crossing the river through a bridge was going to come true.
However, nine years on, six of the other bridges are either complete or in the final phase of construction, while this bridge over Mainabatti remains an unfulfilled promise.
The villagers were first sold the dream of a bridge over Mainabatti during the Panchayat Rule in 1989. However, the plan was dropped even before a tender notice could be announced.
Then they pinned their hopes on former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who won the federal elections from Siraha in 2017 and who had said during his campaigns that the construction of the bridge would be completed soon.
“Our hope was rekindled when Dahal promised that the construction will be completed soon,” a local Zamir Khan said, “He won the election with the votes from this region but his promise remains unfulfilled.”
“Some of the elderly people who had first dreamed of a bridge have already passed away,” another local Shuvanarayan Sadaya Urau said, “Some of them used to reach the bridge construction site and say that they would die only after crossing the bridge.”
The company that was handed the contract for the construction of the bridge has remained out of contact with the Road Division, Lahan. Rayamajhi Nepal Pragati JV was handed the contract worth Rs 47 million with the deadline of February 7, 2014.
However, five years on, the contractors have not even completed the foundation pillars of the bridge. According to the road office, the contractor has already taken Rs 14.7 million in total since they were handed the contract.
Engineer at the Road Division Office, Lahan, Bechan Kumar Bhandari informed Republica that the latest reports show that 32 percent of the construction works have been completed as of now. “If they work properly, the bridge can be completed in nine months,” he said.