The Lorikhachhu bridge in Tading, Samtse, which collapsed in a flood caused by incessant rain about three years ago, is yet to be repaired.
The culvert bridge collapsed in August 2014, five months after it was constructed.
Although some portions of the bridge still stand, it has no entry or exit. On one side, the bridge stands higher from the ground, from where people use a bamboo ladder to climb over the bridge’s surface. The other side is not high from the riverbed and residents jump to the riverbank.
While there is a suspension bridge located about 20 minutes walk away, both young and adults use the broken bridge as it connects to the gewog connectivity road.
On July 15, the ladder snapped when some men tried to climb onto the bridge. Despite the risk, commuters still used the broken ladder to cross the river.
A Tading villager, Chandra Bahadur Ghalley had come to drop his three nieces across the river on the afternoon of July 15. “I have no idea what would happen of this bridge,” he said.
The bridge was constructed at a cost of Nu 1.8M from the gewog budget. Today, villagers are not sure whether the bridge falls under the gewog administration or the department of roads (DoR). If a new bridge is constructed, it will reconnect nine villages in the gewog to the Samtse – Phuentsholing highway.
Another resident Chandra Bahadur Bhujel, said, villagers had earlier placed a temporary wooden bridge. “It was washed away,” he said, explaining a bamboo ladder was then kept at the site.
According to one resident, Sherbahadur Tamang, the bridge collapsed due to careless construction.
“Villagers requested them to build a strong foundation but it was not done,” he said, adding that villagers had advised so because they knew about the river more than the outsiders.
Tading gup Jagath Bahadur Ghalley said the gewog office has reminded people on the safety aspects. He said the bridge is under the DoR.
“We have been following up with them,” the gup said, adding that there has not been a response from DoR so far.
Tading is one of the 15 gewogs in Samtse and has a population of over 5,700.
Rajesh Rai | Tading