July 26: As the rainy season continues this year, 26 bridges across the country have been damaged so far by floods. The damage due to the complete and partial collapse of the bridges has caused losses of billions of rupees.
According to a preliminary report of the task force formed to study the extent of damage on bridges by rains and floods, eight motorable bridges that were under-construction have collapsed. Eight other motorable have also been damaged, the report stated. Shiva Prasad Nepal, deputy director general and spokesperson of the Department of Roads said that among other types of bridges, three wooden bridges, one Bailey bridge, two slab culverts and approach road of four bridges were damaged.
Although the exact data will be available only after a detailed study, Nepal said that the preliminary report shows the loss of around Rs 800 million. The bridges over Triyuga, Mahesh, Lodari, and Kamala rivers have collapsed while being constructed.
Although the approach road to Kothiya Ghat, Soti Ghat and Khelako bridge was damaged, the main structure was not damaged. A Bailey bridge and other wooden bridges have also collapsed due to floods in Manang.
Likewise, the bridge over the Trishuli River connecting Devghat in Tanahau and Thimura in Chitwan also collapsed last April.
The task force was formed under the initiative of former Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Basanta Kumar Nemwang on July 4 after road and bridges in different parts of the country collapsed in April. The task force was mandated to analyze the causes of the damage to the bridges and submit a recommendation by July 22.
“The team has returned from the field but the difficulty is that a detailed study seems impossible until the water level in the rivers and streams where the bridges collapsed decreases,” he said, “As the water level has risen, we couldn’t do more than look at it from the shore.” Spokesperson Nepal said that there is a possibility of a complete report only after September 1.
Moreover, he said that the deadline of the task force will be extended and the final report will be submitted only after the water level decreases and detailed data is collected. Discussions are underway at the secretary level to extend its terms.
According to the preliminary study, the first reason for the damage on the bridges is due to unnaturally heavy rains in June. Secondly, the activities in the watershed area have also contributed to the damages.
“Development works such as roads, irrigation and culverts are being carried out by the local government in the watershed area,” Nepal said, “Such damage has occurred after the level of the river increased when the soil and stones that came out of the tracks were not placed properly. At the same time, the damage has occurred as some bridges have been built long ago and now the pattern of the rains has changed.
“Another important thing that we lack is that we don’t have proper data on rain, and soil research,” he said, “We have to rely on secondary data and they may not match.”
Stating that there may be some weakness in testing the soil by drilling while constructing the bridges, he said that there is no database of consultants and soil test reports. Around 250 to 300 motorable bridges are constructed annually under the department.