Neten Dorji | Trashigang

People of more than 200 households in Berdungma, Thungkhar, Ramchongma, and Yamkhar villages of Thimshing have been affected after Nyera Ama Chhu washed away their only link with the gewog more than three months ago in June.  The vehicle movement on the farm road stopped after the bridge collapsed.

The residents of Berdungma, Thungkhar, Yamkhar, and Ramchongma have to walk at least an hour along Nyera Ama Chhu on a temporary bridge to get to the other side of the road.

A villager of Bedungma, Pema said that the area was still witnessing continuous landslides since Sunday night. “Many of us are suffering after the Bailey bridge collapse in June this year of continuous rainfall. We are anxiously waiting for the bridge to be fixed soon,” he said.

Elderly citizens and those sick have been hit hard by the bridge collapse. In case of an emergency, they have to trans-shift to reach the nearest hospital.

Villagers said that their lives have become difficult. “We are worried about when we will get a new bridge since we have to trans-shift everything and it is difficult,” said a villager Namgay Dorji. “The bridge makes our life easy to travel to both gewog and Wamrong town.”

The bridge connects the two chiwogs with the rest of the gewog.

“Access to the market, transporting construction materials, and other things is a big challenge,” said a villager, Dorji from Berdungma.  He said the two chiwogs are in dire need of a bridge, the gewog administration has no budget in the current fiscal year to reconstruct the bridge. “Constructing a bridge requires a huge budget.”

Local residents see the construction of a bridge over the stream as the only solution. “Without the bridge over the stream, several vehicles remained stranded on either side of the stream every time,” said a resident Pema Wangchuk. “People trans-shift every time. It is inconvenient for elderly people.”

He said that they are hopeful to fix the bridge before the current government ends its term.

Thungkhar-Berdungma Chiwog tshogpa, Langa Dorji said the bridge used to benefit villagers on the other side of the river.

“After the bridge collapsed, it became difficult for villagers to seek services from the gewog centre,” he said. “Villagers drive for around five hours via Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highway to get there. But, due to the long distance and poor road conditions, not many prefer travelling along that route.”

He said sometimes the road remains blocked during the monsoon.

Villagers said that they requested the gewog to build a bailey bridge to connect the gewog.

“The river has been narrowed at the site of the bridge and because of high-pressure build-up, the bridge might have collapsed,” said a villager.

The need for a new bridge in place of the one that was washed away was also discussed in a recent dzongkhag tshogdu (DT).

Thrimshing Gup Yegay Dorji said that the gewog administration has written letters to the Ministry of Agriculture and  Ministry of Works and Human Settlement on the need for a bridge.

“Officials from the Department of Roads visited the site. They are working on cost estimation and other related work,” said the gup.

The collapsed bridge was constructed six years ago with a budget of more than Nu. 7.3 million.