English | Dzongkha Saturday, July 24, 2021

Poor condition of a suspension bridge over the Phochhu in Toedwang Gewog under Punakha


Jun 12, 2021

The poor condition of a suspension bridge over the Phochhu in Toedwang Gewog in Punakha is becoming a serious concern for the parents and the management of the Wolathang Primary School. The bridge which is in dire need of maintenance poses risks to everyone crossing the bridge, especially small children.

The children who live in Kewana-Tshachhuphu chiwog, located just opposite the Wolathang Primary School, have to use the suspension bridge every day to go to the school. Today, around 20 students are coming from the village.

The wooden planks laid on the bridge are old and starting to wear out. Likewise, the bridge’s railings are also in no good condition with most of them torn. To make matter worse, the river level is on the rise now.

“There is a high risk of us falling from the bridge, especially when it rains. We do not know how to walk slowly and cautiously during such times. We play and run on the bridge. There are high chances of accidents happening if the matter is not looked upon,” said Tshering Lhazin, a student.

“It’s better when there is no rain as the planks on the bridge do not become slippery. But we have to worry while it is raining as the planks on the bridge are old and the river level is increasing,” added Tshering Choki, another student.

Worried over the matter, some parents accompany their children to drop and pick them up from the school. While some parents send their children with other parents. This they say is proving to be a hectic job and hampering their day-to-day works as well.

“I always go with my children to drop them at schools. I have been doing this for the last six years. Of course, we do not worry while they walk on the grounds, but the only worry is when they have to cross the bridge as its condition is not so good. The bridge’s condition is not good with most of its parts broken,” said Tshering Wangmo, one of the parents in the village.

Without any interventions from the government, the villagers have no other option than to do some minor maintenance all by themselves.

“It has been around seven to eight years that the planks on the bridge could not be changed. Likewise, the side railings of the bridge are almost out of condition in several places. Moreover, some parts of the bridge have fallen from underneath. It requires several materials and equipment if we have to repair it properly,” said Zati, one of the residents from Kewana-Tshachhuphu chiwog.

“We do the maintenance works time and again. But still, we are facing the problem as the wooden bottoms on the bridge are not in good condition. Likewise, we cannot change the metal parts of the bridge, as there is a huge river below. We have problems especially in the middle of the bridge. We have lifted and increased the height of one portion in the middle while repairing it and we also do not have proper railings there,” said Tshering Wangmo, the Tshogpa of Kewnana-Tshachhuphu.

Meanwhile, the officiating principal of Wolathang Primary School, Namgay Thinley, said that the bridge poses a threat in winter.

“During winter as well, planks get slippery due to mist. So, this bridge has a problem both in summer and winter,” he added.

However, according to the Foreign Minister, Dr Tandi Dorji, who is from the Lingmukha-Toedwang Constituency in Punakha said that the matter will be solved soon.

The government is planning to construct a new bridge at Khuruthang and the suspension bridge will be replaced with the old Khuruthang bridge. He said that the works are expected to be complete by 2023.

The over 200-feet long suspension bridge was constructed in the late 1980s.

Changa Dorji, Punakha

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