A UK funded bridge was inaugurated recently by Vidyadhar Mallik Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development and Alan Duncan MP, UK Minister of State for International Development.
The bridge built over the Sabha Khola River will safely link thousands of isolated communities in Sankhuwasabha District in Eastern Nepal for the first time. The bridge, completed on 29th January 2013, is set to bring an economic boost to families in one of Nepal’s most remote regions.
The 120m steel truss bridge - the longest of its type in Nepal, will connect hundreds of km of strategic and local roads, the region’s only all weather airport and a landmark hydro-electric power project. It will ensure the flow of trade and goods to the east of the country bringing business, tourism and jobs so the people living around Tumlingtar can work themselves out of poverty. The bridge will also save the lives of people paying for the dangerous boat to cross the raging Sabha Khola River during the rainy season. The unique bridge was designed to withstand earthquakes and flash floods.
In his speech in the opening ceremony, Minister Vidyadhar Mallik said, “The bridge is an important symbol of development, connecting the poor and most remote Eastern Districts to the rest of Nepal, facilitating wider development, and helping the region stand on its own two feet.” He mentioned the immediate impacts that the Rural Access Programme (RAP) have achieved and went on to say “The challenge now is to sustain the gains - one we accept and will work on together in the third phase of RAP focusing on the maintenance and rehabilitation of the road asset and creating jobs, improving skills and markets in the West of Nepal where the poverty levels are highest.”
UK Minister for International Development, Alan Duncan, said: “This bridge proves how British aid can make a real difference, helping the people of Nepal to lift themselves out of poverty. This bridge is a life-line. It will allow communities to work and trade, send their children to school and access health care.”
A second bridge will open in June this year to provide the first year-round crossing of the Arun River at Leguwaghat. The two bridges will connect 174 miles (280km) of roads already built in the area. They will allow farmers and other traders from four districts in eastern Nepal – Sankhuwasabha, Khotang, Bhojpur and Dhankuta – to reach markets as far away as India. The bridges, part of UK aid funded Rural Access Programme, are the final links in a chain to improve access to roads for 900,000 people who previously had to walk for more than four hours. Over the past ten years more than 603 miles (970km) of road have been built by DFID, providing employment for 24,000 poor families.
The UK International Development Minister also commented that: ‘due to the programmes good results it was an easy decision for me to approve the UK grant for the next phase of the Rural Access Programme that will lift a further 20,000 people out of poverty and generate 7.5 million days of employment’.