Trail Bridge Support Unit (TBSU), an SDC project which is implemented by Helvetas advises on technical issues in trail bridge building since its’ initiation phase. This case depict a life change story after completion of Trail Bridge in Balde Bafaune bridge over the Budhi ganga river.
Life has changed for the better, because earlier it was difficult for us to make both ends meet.. Now we have a regular income and have managed to save some money”. She adds that “with the savings, my husband bought a motorcycle and 7 goats.” They are also now hopeful for the future of their daughter, who will soon be starting school.
Sarita Thapa, a resident of Budiganga Nagar Palika, Bajura, who is overjoyed to have the Balde Bafaune bridge over the Budhi ganga river.
This bridge is considered as a “Mela bridge” as it connects pilgrims to the Badimalika temple, which is considered as a major religious site, especially for the far-western part of the country. Through its construction, approximately 2 hours of detour time has now been reduced. Furthermore, the bridge was constructed to benefit locals approximately 3,500 people, out of whom 25% belong to Dalit and 75% are Brahman/Chhetri/Thakuri. Its importance dramatically increases during the month of Bhadra (August/Bhadra) when pilgrims throughout Nepal and even as far as India come to offer prayers especially during Janai Purnima. According to Sarita Thapa, during this festive period, traffic flow increases to around 1000 people crossing the bridge daily.
Sarita Thapa, a resident of Budiganga Nagar Palika, Bajura
For Sarita Thapa, the increase in pilgrims is a welcome sign. As she has a grocery & ready-made food shop near the bridge site. “Our business flourishes on those days and our income goes up to around Rs. 5,000/- a day” says Sarita. On other normal days, she confides that her income totals to on average NRs 36,000/- per month. This is a dramatic change from the pig farming which she and her husband were involved in prior to the setting up of the shop. According to Sarita, pig framing was not lucrative and so when they saw the prospect of a shop after the Balde Bafaune bridge became functional, they decided to quit pig farming, relocate to Brahmatola palika, and set up the shop. Business was good, but, they later realized that passersby wanted more than dry snacks. She notes, “demand for tea and hot snacks was high, so we capitalized on the opportunity and opened a restaurant to cater for their needs as well”.
The only drawback of the bridge is that sometimes people steal her vegetables, which she grows near her shop. But, these are few and far between and the benefits far outweigh the loss of a few cabbages, which is why she considers the bridge a boon not only for the pilgrims who come to pray, but for her superficially as it has answered her prayers.