For the want of a bridge and a road

This tiny hamlet in Bongo is just connected by a ropeway that is fast rusting and posing threat to lives and properties

Tashi Wangmo

Baikunza Chiwog, a small village of 68 households under Bongo in Chhukha, is gifted with all the bounties of nature. Yet, residents here live a frugal life of a hand-to-mouth farmer and developmental activities seem a distant and farfetched dream.

Without a proper bridge and motor able road the residents of this village depend on a single metal ropeway that is slung across the river, and which ferries people and their commodities across to the other side of civilization.

“We were promised of a farm road and a suspension bridge in the chiwogs in the 11th FYP but had to be cancelled due to shortage of funds for the works,” said Tshering Nidup the gup of Bongo.

The gup said that though the chiwog is blessed with fertile land and the promise of a good agricultural produces like mangoes, bananas and oranges, farmers didn’t farm on commercial scale as taking their farm produce fore sale was not economically viable.

“Transporting goods is a major problem as we have to pay almost Nu 500 t0 700 for each person. The only connectivity is a ropeway that has aged over time and posses serious threat to commuters,” Yeshey Choden, 30, the village tshogpa said.

According to her, the villagers were excited when the prime minister promised them of a bridge and a farm road during his visit last year but nothing concrete has happened of it till date.

“The village is blessed with fertile land and cash crops like oranges, mangoes and bananas grow aplenty. But farmers do not take their produces to the market as the transportation cost is more than the actual profit earned. Villagers also do not look to grow vegetables for commercial purpose too,” Yeshey Choden said, adding that the village has plenty of avenues to develop should the government construct them a bridge and a farm road.

To add to their woes, the river gets swollen during the monsoon season rendering their only mode of communication, through the ropeway, defunct and a perilous task endangering their lives.

According to the villagers commuting through the ropeway is a daredevil task given the dangers associated with it. “The ropes have developed rusts and we have to live under constant fear that it will give away some day.”

Though Bakunza chiwogs has a school and a basic health unit, transportation of essentials like food, stationeries and medicines becomes difficult especially during the monsoons when the river gets swollen and the ropeway is rendered not useable.

“Sometimes the pulleys get jammed and injure commuters. The residents prefer not to commute and risk their lives,” Yeshey Choden said, adding that the village, if connected, could produce a lot of fruits and vegetables which can help uplift their livelihood and living conditions.

Similarly, 65-year-old Rinchen Gyeltshen who is a resident of the village said that it has been almost a year since they were promised of a bridge and a farm road. But nothing has happened of the promise even as the monsoon season this year is approaching too.

“The monsoon has already set in and it will be difficult to carry out any construction works. It will be another year to see or dreams finally fruition,” Rinchen added.

He said that many households in his village owned orange and mango orchards however, they are not lucky enough to get it traded and earn income to their family as they do not have a proper bridge and a road.

Rinchen added that they had to hire potters to help transport essential goods and commodities to their village. “We almost have to pay double the price to transport essentials like rice, gas cylinders and other household commodities. Even transporting cements to build our houses are very expensive.”

The villagers today show least interest in farming in a commercial scale and the little they produce is sold to the BHU and other extension officers so that what little they harvest doesn’t go into vain.

“There is no use of selling our produces in the market as it doesn’t fetch us profit,” he said, adding if only there is a bridge and a farm road life would be much better.

Apart from these challenges the villagers are also confronted with increasing incidences of coming to conflict with wildlife. This year too most of their farms were destroyed by monkeys and wild boars.

Residents say that the people had no choices left than to migrate to other places. This year alone residents of two households had already left the village in search for greener pastures. Villagers say that the problem will aggravate if the problems of road and bridge is not solved.

Meanwhile, the Bongo gup Tshering Nidup said that a survey to build a bridge and a farm was conducted about two weeks ago. “We might finally get a bridge and a farm road constructed in the upcoming 2017-18 fiscal year,” the gup said.

Until then the residents of Bakunza chiwogs must depend on the creaky ropeway to transport their commodities come rain or shine.














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