Five years on, Ramghat bridge construction remains incompleteLocal residents face difficulties transporting daily essentials in the absence of a bridge.
The construction work of a bridge in Ramghat, Bheriganga Municipality of Surkhet has been left incomplete for the last five years.
The bridge, when completed, will connect Dasarathpur of Lekbeshi Municipality to Ramghat in Bheriganga Municipality.
According to the Division Road Office in Surkhet, the proposed site of the bridge construction is not suitable for construction works, as the area does not have a rocky surface to stabilise the pillars.
Ramesh Lekhak, the then Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, had laid the foundation stone of the bridge on December 17, 2016. Ashish JV, the contractor company, had received the contract to construct the bridge at a total cost of Rs 200 million. According to the contract agreement, the deadline of the 157 metres bridge project was mid-February 2020.
The contractor company had asked the Division Road Office to review the design of the bridge after finding that the site was not suitable for bridge construction. However, the bridge division of the Department of Roads took three years to review the design.
“The pillars of the bridge cannot be constructed in the absence of a rocky surface. The agreement with the contractor company has already been scrapped,” said Bijaya Kumar Thapa, chief at the Division Road Office in Surkhet.
The construction company then went to the High Court in Surkhet, challenging the government’s decision to cancel the contract. The company had demanded that it be provided Rs 30 million as compensation for the contract cancellation.
According to the Division Road Office, the case is pending at the High Court. The office said the project contract was scrapped, as the construction company did not carry out the project work even after receiving Rs 20.9 million in advance.
“The division office has issued a letter to the construction company to pay Rs 50 million, including interest, to the government, as the company did not work even after the design review. Now with the case pending in court, there is uncertainty about the project,” said Thapa. “Whether to continue the bridge construction work or not will be decided only after the court’s verdict.”
The delay in the bridge’s construction has affected the locals, making it difficult for them to transport daily essentials.
There is a suspension bridge linking Dasharathpur to Ramghat but it is in a dilapidated condition, according to locals.
“The existing suspension bridge is in a poor condition,” said Hari Gurung, a local man. “And the construction of the concrete bridge is far from complete. We just want the bridge to be completed soon.”
Local farmers have also been facing hardships in supplying their agricultural produce in the absence of a concrete bridge.
“We have to risk our lives and carry our agricultural produce across the decrepit suspension bridge,” said Lalmati Oli, a local farmer. According to her, around 1,000 people cross the suspension bridge on a daily basis.
The alternate route for local farmers and traders to transport goods is a motorable bridge in Mehalkuna, a few kilometres from Dasarathpur.