Locals still cross Lalbakaiya river in Tikuliya Ghat by boatA boat capsized by hitting the pillar of the under-construction bridge and killed five people two years ago but the under-construction bridge has not been completed yet.
Two years ago, five people were killed when a boat carrying 29 people across the Lalbakaiya river capsized after hitting an under-construction bridge in Tikuliya Ghat of Gaur Municipality Ward No. 4, Rautahat.
The incident occurred in the peak of monsoon season when the water level in the river was high.
The under-construction bridge is still incomplete, and thousands of people are still compelled to cross the river through boats risking their lives.
The bridge in Tikuliya Ghat was supposed to connect dozens of villages—including Banjaraha, Baraiya, Mathiya, Jokaha, Bairiya, Akolawa, Rampur—to Gaur, the district headquarters of Rautahat.
The bridge project was handed over to the controversial Pappu Construction in July 2014. The company was supposed to complete the Rs 149.3 million project by July 2017. But the bridge could not be completed due to the contractor’s negligence.
Since then, Pappu Construction has been blacklisted by the government for failing to deliver on the contracts and carrying out substandard works, among other charges.
With the bridge project abandoned, many people in Gaur still take boats whenever they have to get across the Lalbakaiya river. During the monsoon season, crossing the river is fraught with risk.
Many people have their fields in Banjaraha, and to reach there they have to cross the river.
Suraj Sah, a resident of Tikuliya, said he gets scared whenever he has to cross the river by boat, particularly after the boat capsize incident.
“I lost my relative in the incident two years ago,” said Sah. “We waited for a long time for the completion of the bridge, but that never happened. We are still compelled to take risks while crossing the river during monsoon,” Sah said.
There’s only one wooden boat to take people across the river. The boat can carry up to 20 people and their belongings at a time.
“Being the only boat in operation, it is always crowded,” said Sah.
During the winter, when the water level in the river is low, people cross the river through a diversion. But during the monsoon, the locals have no option but to take the boat to get to the other side of the shore.
Bhuvaneshwar Shahi, the ward chairman of Gaur Municipality-4, said only 65 percent of the bridge was completed in four years of construction.
“People lost their lives because of the carelessness of the construction company. Yet, the authorities concerned are not serious about completing the bridge,” said Shahi.
Pappu Construction had claimed that the construction work of the bridge was delayed due to lack of construction materials, protests and the 2015 earthquakes, among other reasons.