Wednesday, 16th April 2014

Bridge inaugurated over Arun River

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A 120m steel truss bridge has officially been opened over the Arun River in eastern Nepal at Leguwa Ghat on Tuesday.

IEC chairman Khil Raj Regmi, along with UK Ambassador Andy Sparkes and DFID Nepal’s head Gail Marzetti, inaugurated the bridge today. The bridge was constructed with funding of £3 million from the UK government.

“We want to thank the British government very much for this bridge which is a symbol of the excellent relations between our two countries,” Regmi said as he inaugurated the bridge.

The bridge will safely link thousands of isolated communities in Bhojpur and Khotang districts in eastern Nepal for the first time. It was completed and opened to traffic in October 2013, providing the first year-round crossing of the Arun River at Leguwa Ghat. The bridge has provided relief to the locals who earlier took dangerous boat rides to cross the river. It is expected that the link will boost trade and tourism of the region and increase access to health and education services for the locals.  

“This bridge is a perfect example of the strong partnership between Nepal and the UK,” said UK Ambassador Andy Sparkes. “Villagers told me that they were very happy with the bridge. Since it has started to operate they are getting rice much cheaper. This bridge is built to last for over a hundred years and the UK’s special relationship with Nepal is nearly twice that old already.”

The unique bridge was designed to withstand earthquakes and flash floods.

DFID Nepal Head, Gail Marzetti, 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 similar bridge opened in April this year in Sankhuwasabha District, connecting hundreds of kilometres of strategic and local roads, the region’s only all-weather airport and a landmark hydro-electric power. The two bridges will connect 280km of roads already built in the area.  This 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 DFID’s 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 970km of road have been built by DFID, providing employment for 24,000 poor families.