• Post-Chathe bridge collapse, a precarious hanging bridge now serves as life-line for thousands
• With thousands commuting every day, there is apprehension that the bridge may not withstand for long
Morung Express News
Dimapur | August 7
After the collapse of the single-lane iron girder Chathe Bridge at 4th mile connecting Dimapur with Niuland ADC sub division on July 11 last, an otherwise disregarded hanging bridge at Seitheke Basa village linking 7th Mile village has become the life line for thousands of people.
Seitheke Basa is one of the villages located across Chathe River towards Niuland and bordered with Naga United village and Old Showuba village.
The 155 meter hanging bridge across the Chathe River was constructed during 2003 under the initiative of one Major DD Pandey of 6 Bihar Regiment and was inaugurated the same year. The intention of the bridge was to provide the villagers with a much shorter route to the main town.
However, with the unanticipated turn of events leading to the collapse of the Chathe Bridge, this hanging bridge constructed with metal rods, cables and wooden slabs, has become a bridge of salvation for the citizens across the river.
Walking across the hanging bridge, which oscillates and creaks even with a little movement, is not for the weak hearted. However, without much of a choice, every day, thousands of commuters, including hundreds of students, balancing precariously, are compelled to cross the bridge.
“I was shaking even after I had crossed the bridge; to think that I have to do this every day is scary,” Kimitoli, a class X student of Diphupar High School exclaimed. Akangla, who is a nurse at CIHSR, is always at jitters to cross the bridge. “This is so frightening,” the nurse who has been traversing every day on the same route since the Chathe Bridge collapsed lamented.
The Nagaland State Transport (NST) has also introduced bus transport via Patkai College with pick up and dropping points at Chumukedima and New Showuba to ease the inconveniences of citizens. However for students, it is not convenient because the bus service does not correspond to their school timings.
Apok, whose two sibling study at Unity Christian Hr Sec School said he prefers to cross the bridge rather than take the NST provided bus. “For one, the timing of the bus does not correspond with the school timing where the kids study. And, the road is too bumpy that the kids get sick before they even reach Chumukedima,” Apok explained.
The bridge is not exactly sturdy either and is restricted to five people to cross at a go. On August 9, 2016, the bridge, unable to withstand the daily commuting collapsed, and had to be rebuilt with contribution from the villagers and MLA Jacob Zhimomi.
Now, with thousands more taking the bridge to town and back every day, the condition of the bridge is more at risk- one particular reason why members of the Seitheke Basa Students’ Union have been monitoring the movement of commuters across the bridge.
“By 5:00am, we are stationed at both ends of the bridge to oversee the movement of the commuters, we have to stay till 7-8 pm in the evening,” Nyitelo, a member of Seitheke Basa Students’ Union informed this reporter. With maximum load capacity being five people at a time, students are given priority, he said.
“A week back, when we did a head count, there were at least 2000 people crossing the bridge every day. Now with the summer vacation of most education institutions over, we have at least 3000 people crossing the bridge every day,” Seitheke Basa Students Union president Erawe Sekhamo revealed.
There is apprehension that the bridge will not be able to withstand the daily load of weight encumbered every day for long, if other alternatives are not provided at the earliest.
On August 3, Nagaland State Chief Minister TR Zeliang had announced that a suspension bridge and a temporary bamboo bridge would be constructed at 4th mile by the NSDMA in coordination with DDMA, Dimapur.
However judging by the track records of the sluggish way works are carried out in Nagaland, it remains to be seen when these bridges would see completion.