By Shailendra Rokaya, Bajhang, Sept. 17:The construction of three concrete bridges in Khaptadchanna Rural Municipality, under Seti Lokmarg (highway), has come to a halt due to contractor negligence. Despite a five-year contract, the work remains incomplete.
The Seti Lokmarg Southern Section Project Office in Achham initiated construction by asking for bids in 2018. However, progress on all three bridge projects was obstructed as the contractor failed to start work promptly after signing the agreement.
The contract for each of the three bridges was awarded to different contractors. Specifically, Khampa TDR JV secured the contract for Rs. 65 million in Jadar, Khaptadchanna Rural Municipality-1.
Rayamajhi Caravan JV was awarded the contract for Rs. 50 million in Kuchekhola (Kalipchai) of Khaptadchhanna Rural Municipality-2, and Ambhar Construction secured the contract for Rs. 50 million in Bidigad, Khaptadchhanna Rural Municipality-7.
Despite numerous pleas from the local government and residents to speed up the construction, the contractor company has remained unresponsive. This delay in completing the bridge has imposed unnecessary hardships on the local people, leading to increased costs for essential daily supplies due to supply disruptions.
Bishnu Kumar Thapa, Vice Chairman of Khaptadchanna Rural Municipality, stated, "The contractor company initially faced delays.
Despite repeated appeals from the village council and after pressure from the Seti Lokmarg office, work was started last year but halted when the rainy season began. We have engaged in discussions with the contractor company, and they have assured us that work will resume once the rainy season concludes."
He further mentioned that the construction of the concrete bridges at Jadargad and Kuche Khola is expected to be finished by next June. However, there might be potential delays due to ongoing disputes between the office and the contractor concerning the bridge's quality at Bidigad Bridge.
The concrete bridge at Kuche Khola faced problems when it was partially buried due to an unexpected flood from October 17-20, 2021. The contractor company also mentioned that most of their construction materials were washed away during the flood, leading to a minor delay in the construction work.
Ishwar Joshi, a local resident, expressed concerns about the recurring problem of contractors taking up projects and then delaying the construction work. He highlighted the frustration within the community as the bridge remains incomplete even after five years, forcing residents of the rural municipality to rely on foot to reach their destinations.
Ramesh Bhandari, the Chief of Seti Lokmarg Southern Section, acknowledged that the contractor company initially faced delays. Furthermore, the construction work was hampered by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, floods, and other unexpected issues, contributing to further delays in the project.
“The pillars for the concrete bridges at Jadarg and Kuche Khola are complete, but there is still substantial work remaining, particularly on the slopes. Likewise, at the Bidigad concrete bridge site, the slope has already been constructed, but the office has mandated its reconstruction due to concerns regarding material quality,” Bhandari said.