GORKHA: Children of Taklung Theuwatar settlement in Shahid Lakhan Rural Municipality-4, Gorkha, risk their lives daily while crossing the Trishuli River through a wire bridge or Tuin on their way to school.
There are more than 40 children at Taklung Theuwatar who use the cableway to reach their school in Kurintar, Chitwan. It takes nearly an hour to reach the nearest suspension bridge, so the children use the traditional crossing that consists of ropes, pulleys and a trolley.
“It only takes five minutes to cross the river on the Tuin. So we find it convenient using it while going to school,” said Narayan Praja, who goes to Sarba Shanti Secondary School in Kurintar.
Mamata Chepang, a fifth grader at the same school, said, “We are only using the Tuin because it gets us to our school on time”
“It is frightening if you think about it, but we are used to it by now. The trick is not to look down,” she added, pointing down to the raging Trishuli River.
According to the villagers, four people have died after falling off the ropeway so far. Some villagers have lost their fingers after getting their hands jammed in the pulley wheels.
“Despite the deaths and accidents, we have no option but to use the Tuin, be it for going to school, taking farm produces to the market or going to the hospital,” said Bhakta Bahadur Lamsal, a local man.
Though Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, during his first premiership in 2015, had pledged to replace all Tuin crossings in the country with suspension bridges, the construction of a suspension bridge at Dharapani in Kurintar has failed to make progress.
The bridge project, which started in December 2016, was supposed to be completed by October 2017.
“Only the foundations of the proposed bridge have been built so far. The representatives of the contractor company, Naya Bato Mana Construction JV, are out of contact for the last one year,” said Rabin Lamsal, the chairman of the Bridge Construction Consumers’ Committee.
Humkanta Mishra of the Suspension Bridge Division Office said, “We have already issued a notice against the contractor for failing to complete the work on time. The company officials will face action for their negligence.”