Several bridges along BP Highway in sorry stateFor lack of timely repairs, the bridges and roads have turned accident-prone.
Several bridges along the 160 km long BP Highway have fallen into disrepair, turning the busy alternative road to link Kathmandu with Tarai accident-prone.
It has not even been a decade since the highway, which was built with the support of the Japanese government, was handed over to the government of Nepal. Owing to the lackadaisical approach of the authorities concerned, the bridges that are supposed to last for about 50 years are already becoming risky, locals say.
The highway bridges, according to technicians, are generally usable for at least 50 years. They say there are some bridges in the country that have been used for more than 50 years.
Over a dozen bridges, big and small, have become one-way along the highway while a few others need to be reconstructed. Most of such bridges are along the Bardibas-Sindhuli-Dhulikhel road section.
According to locals, in the dilapidated Khare bridge near Nepalthok, Sunkoshi Municipality-1, the rivers and canals flood during the rainy season, causing traffic jams for hours. Among the short-distance alternatives, BP Highway is the shortest route connecting Tarai districts in the eastern Nepal with the Capital and the confluence of Madan Bhandari Highway.
Ram Sharan Shrestha, a local resident of Sunkoshi-1, said the road witnesses traffic congestion round the year and not just during the festivals. At Bhiman, Khurkot, Mangaltar and other places of the BP Highway, the road project has been badly damaged, but new construction has also been started, Shrestha said, adding a few metres long road near Khurkot Bazaar has been one-way as the flooded stream damaged a bridge.
“The road project failed to protect the bridge from the floods and soil erosion,” he said. “The bridge built by the Japanese government did not last even a decade due to lack of timely repair work and maintenance. The flood in the local streams and rivers filled the bridge with mud and stones, causing it to crack and burst of potholes resulting in it to be unusable.”
The travellers and passengers complain that travelling along BP Highway has been quite risky in recent days. “There is the Sunkoshi river nearby, the road is narrow and the several bridges are risky to cross,” said Subarna Magar, a driver of a passenger vehicle plying the highway. “And we are often caught in traffic jams for hours.”
After the flooded stream destroyed a bridge near Nepalthok, the BP Highway Road Project is now constructing a new one.
Shrestha said the road project did not show interest in protecting the bridges. “The road tax is collected from the public for smooth transportation,” he said, “but the highway, especially the bridges, are in poor condition, due to the lack of maintenance and conservation.”
The bridge over the Gadauli stream along Sindhuli-Bardibas road developed cracks due to floods last year.
“The government authorities and the local people should conserve the road and bridge. But neither the government authorities nor the local people are much concerned for the protection of the highway,” said Khadga Bahadur Karki, a local of Golanjor Rural Municipality-4.
The road project also admits that some bridges along the highway are in poor condition due to regular repair work. According to Ramesh Acharya, sub-engineer at the road project, an access road has been constructed after two bridges in Bhiman of Bardibas-Sindhulimadi road section got damaged.
“Floods, landslides and soil erosion damaged some bridges,” Acharya said. “We have started repairing the bridges in some places and constructing new bridges in others.”