Singeychhu bridge protection walls washed away, seven villages under threat of being cut off

Singeychhu bridge which connects seven villages in Samphelling gewog with the rest of Phuentsholing across the Singyechhu river has become unusable as of now. The recent downpour has washed away protection walls of the bridge.

Constructed last year, the 70-ft long bridge was a vital connecting bridge for the villagers. Otherwise, they had to use the Indian road.

According to the villagers, the bridge helped them after it was completed but the heavy rains in recent times have compelled them to use the old Indian road again thus posing various risks.

“We were happy that we are connected by a bridge but the current situation has made us worry. We have been facing numerous problems,” said Nanda Kishor Chhetri, a villager in Kothiline. The villagers used the bridge to transport goods and other essential items which was easier and convenient.

The steel truss Bailey bridge constructed by M/S Tshering Zamling Construction also shortens the distance between Phuentsholing town and the hospital. “More importantly, we are facing problems during emergencies,” said a villager, Parsu Ram Sharma.

With the onset of monsoon, the villagers fear that the river will wash away the protections walls of both the banks. Currently, people transport their goods till the bridge point, carry across the bridge through the narrow path and transport using another vehicle to reach their destination. If the rainfall continues, it can erode the remaining path along with the wall.

Also, the bridge helped the farmers to transport their farm products to the market. The village is known to grow all types of cash and food crops which are their prime source of income. The farmers have started poultry and piggeries for sustenance. Ruben Limbu, who owns a piggery has been facing difficulty in transporting feed to his farm and meat to the market. “The cost escalates transporting in multiple vehicles, which impacts our business,” he said.

The bridge was of great use to dairy farmers to transport spent grain from the brewery in Pasakha as cattle feed.

However, Samphelling Gup Mani Kumar Rai said, the gewog administration has taken a temporary measure to maintain the bridge and make it pliable. The gewog has deployed an excavator to maintain boulder walls to block the river currents. He said that the gewog will construct a permanent concrete wall in the winter. “It’s impossible during monsoon, so we are planning to build a concrete protection wall in the winter,” he said.

The bridge connects more than 1,500 villagers of seven chiwogs of Samphelling gewog across Singyechhu.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing