Pantapara villagers suffer for lack of bridge over the Biring riverVillagers blame the construction company for the delay in the bridge’s completion.
Gupteshor Mandal of Pantapara in Jhapa Rural Municipality Ward No. 5 has to cross the Biring river every day, as his paddy field and a vegetable patch are on the other side of the river.
“I pay Rs 2,000 annually to the boat operator to take me across the river every day,” Gupteshor said.
Kaushal Mandal of Pantapara also crosses the river by boat every day to get to his school in Rajgadh bazaar. The seventh grader’s parents pay Rs 1,500 annually to the boat operator for its service.
“If I don’t take the boat, I might miss my classes,” Kaushal said. However, crossing the river gets dangerous during the monsoon, when the river swells up. “I’m afraid of crossing the river during the rainy season,” he said.
Like Gupteshor and Kaushal, more than 50 families of Pantapara Village pay the boat operator, Shiva Narayan Yadav, for the services he provides.
The “boat fare” the villagers have to pay puts an additional financial strain on them, said Gupteshor. “Yadav constructs a bamboo bridge over the river during winter and operates a boat during the monsoon. It can get difficult for the villagers to pay Yadav for his services,” he said.
Due to the absence of a bridge, residents of Barhadashi and Jhapa rural municipalities have to cross the river on a boat every day. Although the construction work of a bridge over the river, under the Postal Highway Project, started eight years ago, the bridge remains incomplete.
Locals blame the delay on the contractor company’s carelessness. The contractor company, Lama-Mainachuli JV, had agreed to construct the bridge on June 27, 2011. As per the agreement, the contractor had to complete the bridge’s construction within four years of the project’s initiation. But the planning office of the Postal Highway Directorate in Itahari has extended the deadline of the project time and again.
As per the new deadline, the contractor has to complete the bridge’s construction by June 24, 2020. So far, the contractor company has only built the bridge’s foundation pillars, which are 318 metres long and 9.8 metres wide. Representatives of the company were not available for comment.
Bijaya Mahato, chief at the planning office, said, “We have notified the contractor to speed up the construction work.”
In the absence of a bridge, locals have been unable to transport their agricultural produce to market areas. Ram Prasad Pandit, a local of Barhadashi, said villagers face more difficulties during the monsoon, when the water level in the river rises, in transporting daily essentials across the river.
Devaki Rajbanshi, a ward member of Jhapa Rural Municipality, said the concerned authority should take action against the contractor for its delay in completing the bridge.
“Locals have been greatly affected by the delay in the bridge construction. The concerned authority should expedite the construction work and bring the contractor to book,” Rajbanshi said.