Locals suffer as dilapidated bridges in Gorkha lie unrepairedThe rickety condition of two bridges has forced the locals and tourists alike to risk their life and limb while crossing them.
Two suspension bridges across the Machhakhola and Ghattekhola rivers along the Manaslu foot trail in Gorkha district are in dilapidated condition for lack of repairs.
One of the support pillars of the Machhakhola bridge, which connects Machhakhola and Darche Rural Municipality, has become weak making crossing the bridge risky while the Ghattekhola bridge was damaged during the last monsoon and has yet to be repaired. The Ghattekhola suspension bridge connects Chumanuwari Rural Municipality and Philim.
Despite the rickety condition of the suspension bridges, locals and tourists have no option but to use them risking their life and limb.
Dil Bahadur Gurung crosses the suspension bridge across the Machhakhola river every day with his mules carrying essential supplies to the northern areas of the district. His daily journey in the last six months has been full of risks. “The rains damaged the bridge last monsoon. Since then crossing the bridge is a challenge,” said Gurung. “The wire rails on both sides of the bridge are hanging by a thread. I am afraid for my mules every day. They might miss a step and fall into the river.”
The damaged suspension bridge is the only way to cross Machhakhola and the locals of Dharche and Chumanuwri rural municipalities rely on the bridge to make their journey across the river.
Aitaram Gurung, a mule herder, says locals like him are compelled to cross the bridge to get across the river for a lack of alternatives. “It’s dangerous but we have to cross the river at least twice a day. We can’t swim across the river with the mules,” he said. “It’s risky to cross the river using the bridge during the rainy season since the rains add to the damage to the bridge but even during winter it is dangerous because of the snow on the bridge.”
According to Santosh Gurung, the chairman of Dharche Rural Municipality, the local unit has not repaired the damaged suspension bridge over Machhakhola because they plan to replace it with a Bailey bridge soon.
“The locals have informed us about the damage to the bridge but the Nepal Army has been tasked to replace it altogether with a stronger structure,” said Gurung.
Likewise, the Ghattekhola bridge, which was built in 2002, was damaged by the 2015 earthquakes and the damage has only increased over the years in lack of timely repairs. “We have laid wooden planks on the bridge to walk through. Huge boulders had fallen over the bridge during the earthquakes and weakened the structure,” said Ganga Bahadur Gurung, a local resident.
According to Bhimsen Shrestha, the chief administrative officer of Chumanuwri Rural Municipality, the bridges need technical inspections before initiating repairs. “The cantilever bridge at Yarubagar has also become unusable after the access road was buried in the last rainy season,” he said. “Last monsoon caused damage to another suspension bridge in Lokpa in Ward No 6 of Chumanuwri Rural Municipality. There are other bridges that need repairs too.”