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‘Contractor’s negligence responsible for collapse of Jabdighat Bridge’

A view of the caved in Jabdighat Bridge over Babai River in Guariya, Bardiya, on Monday, August 14, 2017. Photo: Damodar Bhandari

KATHMANDU:  The government’s study panel has found that Pappu Construction — the contractor that built the Jabdighat Bridge over the Babai River in Bardiya — deviated from the design approved by the government during the construction process of the bridge, which resulted in its collapse during heavy floods on Babai River on August 21.

The probe panel formed by the Department of Roads (DoR) has concluded that the contractor had not followed through on the design approved by the government during construction of the 425-metre-long bridge.

According to Ayodhya Prasad Shrestha, coordinator of the probe panel and chief of Mid-western Regional Road Directorate Surkhet, the contractor’s negligence is one of the major reasons for collapse of the bridge even before it had been handed over to the government authority.

“In our preliminary study, we found that the distance between the pillars of the bridge is inconsistent to the approved design. The gap between the pillars should have been 25 metres, but the contractor was not mindful about maintaining the gap and had constructed the pillars at distance ranging from 22 metres to 26 metres,” informed Shrestha.

While the contractor had informed that only pillar number 15 had collapsed due to the floods, the panel found that pillar number 13 had also suffered cracks. Likewise, the probe panel has also said in its initial report submitted to the DoR on September 4 that the floods, which may have eroded the river bed could have weakened the base of the structure and contributed to the collapse of the bridge.

The Jabdighat Bridge, constructed at the total cost of Rs 190.75 million, is yet to be handed over to the government by the contractor. The bridge had collapsed before the formal announcement of completing of its construction.

Talking to The Himalayan Times today, Hari Narayan Prasad Rauniyar, managing director of Pappu Construction, said, “The government hasn’t approached me on this matter and I think an independent investigation is necessary.”

Earlier, Pappu Construction and Federation of Contractors Association of Nepal had alleged that the bridge had collapsed mainly due to the faulty design provided by the government.

–  By Sabin Sharma for THT

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