Locals prefer Nishioka suspension bridge remain untouched

People of Ngangla, Bjoka and Goshing gewogs have started asking what government would do with the old suspension bridge when Bhutan’s second longest bridge over Drangmechhu in Panbang, Zhemgang completes its construction.

The old suspension bridge served as a lifeline for the people of these gewogs for many decades. It immensely benefitted them since it was the only link to the small commercial hub at Panbang or beyond. The bridge functioned as a gateway for people exiting the gewogs to other dzongkhags. Almost everyone in lower Kheng used the bridge to cross the mighty Drangmechhu.

More so, it carries a special significance since it was built by late Dasho Keiji Nishioka popularly known to them as ‘Japan Sahib’, a Japanese man who was instrumental in transforming the area. The suspension bridge was built back in 1979 and people take it as a gift from such a noble man.

Residents are worried that the government may dismantle the old suspension bridge. People say the new concrete bridge will never replace the old suspension bridge although government might say it has no purpose. Therefore rather than dismantling, people have asked the government to renovate the bridge they’ve used for many years.

Many people shared that the old suspension bridge became busier especially during the mandarin season. People used the bridge to ferry mandarin for sale to the nearest market. Nevertheless with the very foundation strongly shaken on which the bridge stands, such travel has become risky and hazardous. In addition bigger holes have developed on the mesh that serves as a wall to protect humans and animals that might fall from the bridge into the river. As many as ten such holes on both sides are visible on the wire maze.

“These holes are large enough to send pedestrians and the animals using the bridge flying down to the torrent river,” noted one regular user of the bridge.

Moreover, two heavy water supply pipes along the bridge with leakage at several points have worsened the condition of the suspension bridge. Hence, people say government needs to do something rather than wait for accidents to happen.

“We worry when many people pass through the old suspension bridge which is dented,” Kinlay Dorji, a businessman in Panbang said. The bridge is heavily used and has breaks and outlets between the palings from where travelers may plunge into the river.

Kinlay Dorji said the condition of the suspension bridge is deteriorating with time and with every persons and horses using it to ferry goods.

Although the issue of dismantling has not been discussed in any platform, people are resolute that the suspension bridge should stay and must be renovated. “We cannot let it go since it will be like reliving the memory of late Dasho Keiji Nishioka,” said a businessman who lives close to the bridge.

“We do not see any harm in retaining the bridge as it was the first one and helped people of Zhemgang,” Ngangla Gup Rinchen Lungten said. He said people treasure the particular bridge in loving memory of the late Dasho Nishioka who built it for the sake of Zhemgang people.

The Bjoka Gup Tshering Wangchuk said “More bridges mean more help to the people,” the Gup said. “The bridge being built by an extraordinary figure should be treasured.”

Residents feel that while the concrete bridge will be used for vehicular movement, the suspension bridge can still serve its purpose for pedestrians. “Rather it will be safer to separate the two both for driver and the pedestrians,” said a resident.

Check Also

PM says Ministers can be removed within a year if they cannot perform

The Prime Minister at the meet-the-press shared that if any minister is found not doing …

3 comments

  1. critical eyes

    I understood the substance and agree with the people of Zhemgang that the old bridge should remain as a symbol of the great work done by late Dasho Nisioka but did not get head or tail of the heading: “Locals prefer Nishioka suspension bridge remain untouched” …. surely something is missing in it.

  2. noble thinking

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *