© Helvetas
A milestone:

First trail bridge funded and implemented solely by local government

KANTI SINGH
© Helvetas

Capacity to accommodate E-rikshaws is an added value of Teshanpur bridge, Bardiya, Nepal

Badhiyatal municipality, Bardiya successfully constructed the Teshanpur Truss Bridge in 2018.This bridge, which spans 32 m and serves over 14,300 people, is the first trail bridge funded and implemented solely from local resources in Nepal.

Contrary to the deficiencies and struggles that are usually highlighted in the media, the elected officials of Badhiyatal municipality have demonstrated that local governments are responsive to community needs and are delivering their mandate.

According to Lal Bahadur Shrestha, Chairperson of Badhaiyatal municipality, the need for a bridge across the Gyang river was first raised during a ward assembly, where the bridge was identified as their top priority. NRs 2,000,000 (about USD 18,000) was provisionally allocated from the ward development fund and a request was sent to the municipality for approval and further support. On receiving the bridge request, the municipality both approved it, and allocated a matching fund allowing for its completion. In addition, the municipality managed the procurement of the required steel parts. The Trail Bridge Support Unit (TBSU)/Helvetas was then approached for technical assistance.

Site assessment and a survey of the bridge site was initiated in March 2018. Nine months later, in December 2018, the bridge was completed. During the process, an inclusive Users’ Committee, with 44% representation of women and disadvantaged groups proportionately represented was formed for day-to-day management. A woman held the position of committee treasurer. Technical support and social mobilization was provided by TBSU and regional technical assistance providers.

Since its completion, the Teshanpur bridge has ensured safer access and shortened distances travelled by residents of Badhaiyatal municipality in reaching service centers such as the health post, local market and schools. Furthermore, the addition of ramps in the design has meant that three wheeled vehicles such as e-rickshaws and motorcycles can also cross the bridge. Traffic is high; Tetiram Tharu, User Committee chairperson, estimates that around 600 people cross the bridge daily during the dry season. This is likely to double in the peak rainy season.

© Helvetas
© Helvetas

As an illustration of the difference made by the bridge, Nirmala Kumari Tharuni and Mina Sunar, both ward members, recounted an incident faced when they had attend a ward meeting during the monsoon. Although they left their homes at 8 am for the meeting, they had to take a long detour along slippery roads due to the high river waters. As a result they only managed to reach the ward office by 1 pm, “Obviously we were late for the meeting and were even scolded for not taking the meeting seriously”. On returning, they had to follow the same route and only reached their homes by 8 pm. “We were exhausted, our legs were hurting and since it was raining, we ended up getting fever. Thankfully, we no longer have to face such difficulties and can now reach the ward office in 45 minutes”.

The bridge was built at a cost of NRs 3,349,000; according to Lal Bahadur Shrestha, “the cost is reasonable and is similar to the cost of a culvert or box bridge”. He added that the municipality is now planning to fund river protection works for the bridge, for which it has provisioned an additional NRs 5,00,000 and has already approached TBSU for technical support.

On learning that Teshanpur bridge was the first built entirely through local funds, Mr. Shrestha requested TBSU to, “... please publicize our bridge to other municipalities. If we can do it then our approach can surely be replicated by others. Especially, since the result can serve as a lifeline to rural people”.