The noisy bridge of Thungdi

DoR: Villagers located around the Thungdi bailey bridge on the way to Ranjung can count the number of vehicles crossing the bridge without being near it.

The rattling sound from the loose steel deck of the bridge is so loud that villagers say when they cannot sleep at night; they count vehicles crossing the bridge.

The bridge divides the two gewogs of Shongphu and Samkhar.  Department of roads (DOR) had assembled it using the parts of another bridge in 2004, after the former culvert bridge collapsed because of a major flood. Since then, the noisy problem began.

Today, the surface of the steel decks has worn out causing vehicles to skid and slide. There were instances of near accidents as vehicles skid on the bridge. Samkhar gup, Sonam Dorji, said the noise is so loud that it could be heard from Bikhar gonpa, which is about 20Km uphill ride from the road point. “The noise is too disturbing, especially at night.”

Shongphu gup, Kinzang Wangdi, said a proper assembling of the bridge should be carried out as soon as possible.

“People are annoyed with the noise. When I enquired with DoR officials about two years back, they informed that work would be carried out soon; we are yet to see any progress,” he said.

The bridge is used by hundreds of motorists headed to the gewogs of Shongphu, Bidung, Radhi, Merak and Sakteng. A local resident, Yangku, remembers an incident when his car almost hit the bridge panel.

“It was raining heavily and my car was skidding through the deck. Fortunately, I managed to recover the balance,” he said.

However, DoR officials said they didn’t receive any official complaints regarding skidding of vehicles from the public. “Except for the noise, the bridge is in a good condition to last for another 15 years or more,” assistant engineer with DoR field sub-division office at Rangjung, Ugyen Dorji, said.

He said the office is in the process of procuring materials for re-decking the bridge.  The decks and transom beams would be replaced.

“We have already procured two truckloads of materials. If the remaining materials reach the site on time, we expect to complete the work by February,” he said. “Once the materials are here, it would only take about a week for re-decking.”

Developmental priorities of the government had delayed re-decking of the bridge, Ugyen Dorji said.

Although the budget for re-decking was approved last year, Ugyen Dorji said it had to be allotted for the maintenance of another bridge in Pemagatshel, given the priority.

“This year, the budget for maintenance of Pemagatshel bridge was directed for Thungdi bridge,” he said.

By Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang

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