Neten Dorji

Trashigang — Villagers of Berdungma,Thungkhar, Ramchongma and Yemkhar in Thimshing are upbeat about the new Bailey bridge that will be ready before monsoon this year.  

The people of two chiwogs dread the monsoon because the villages never had a reliable bridge after the Bailey bridge collapsed. 

For more than a year, the 200-household village of Thrimshing gewog in Trashigang has been grappling with the challenge of a swelling river during the summer, lacking a safe and reliable bridge.

The bridge connects the village to the rest of the gewog. The farm road stops at the river and the villagers have to walk about 20 minutes to the village on the opposite bank.

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

“We are worried about when we will get a new bridge since everything has to trans-shift during summer,”said a village Choden. “The bridge makes our life easy to travel to both gewog and Wamrong town.”

She said most of the households are on the other side of the river along with much of their fields. 

Another villager, Lungten said that in the absence of a reliable bridge, people have to construct a temporary bridge twice a year. The bridge connects the two chiwogs with the rest of the gewog.

“After the bridge collapsed, it became difficult for villagers to seek services from the gewog centre,” said Lungeten. “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.”

She said sometimes the road remains blocked in monsoon.

“At least 10 wooden poles go into constructing the 15-metre long temporary bridge across the river,” said a villager. “We are facing difficulty transporting ration during emergencies. That is how many farmers lose their crops to wild animals.”

The bridge is the lifeline for the people of Thrimshing gewog, schools and residents of Kangpara gewog. 

“For years we suffered, especially during the monsoon. We would be cut off from the rest of the dzongkhag every summer, ”said a resident, Jigme. “We have another route that connects the villages, but it is risky to travel that route in summer.”

Thrimshing Gup, Yegi Dorji, said that people have raised the issue several times to gewog tshogde. 

“Now tenders have been floated, and contractors are collecting materials to begin work,” said the gup. “We hope that the bridge will be ready for people soon.”

Officials from the Department of Surface Transport (DOST) in Trashigang, said that the construction work has been contracted. 

“It will take Nu 30 million (M) to complete the 160-ft bridge within seven months,” said an official.