Nagaland: Sanctioned fund utilized but Shozukhu-Zukihe Bridge still incomplete

Nagaland: Sanctioned fund utilized but Shozukhu-Zukihe Bridge still incomplete
Nagaland: Sanctioned fund utilized but Shozukhu-Zukihe Bridge still incomplete

Morung Express News
Dimapur | February 21

The construction of two new bridges over the Dhansiri and another over the Chathe in Dimapur has hogged the limelight since 2017. But oblivious to the larger public eye, the construction of a Centrally-funded bridge on the outskirts of Dimapur remains largely unheard. 

The construction of the bridge, known to locals as Shozukhu-Zukihe Bridge, located about 15 minutes drive from Zion Hospital & Research Centre, remains incomplete despite full utilization of sanctioned amount. If completed, it would connect Shozukhe village with Zukihe and Wokha district with an all-weather bridge while skirting Assam. 

Commissioned in 2006-07, the 2-lane RCC bridge, worth an estimated 603.17 lakh at the time, was funded through the North Eastern Council’s NLCPR Scheme. 

13 years on, the bridge remains half done due to financial wrangling between the Nagaland PWD (R&B) and the construction firm (M/S PABSCON) contracted for the project and a subsequent course case filed by the latter. 

According to a letter written by the Chief Engineer, PWD (R & B) to the Commissioner & Secretary, Works & Housing in July 2019, 78% of the work was completed as on 2010. However, dispute over payment for work executed suspended the work. 

The letter said, “There was a claim of Rs 1.6 crore by the Contractor for works executed. A technical Inspection Team was instituted to verify details of work. The team submitted its report on November 16, 2011. There was an amount of Rs 1.11 crore excess payment made to the contractor (double payment of one item of work). Although the Report of the Technical Team was received, the Department did not take action on the Contractor nor did the work progress. Instead, the Contractor served Legal Notices to the Department to clear their pending bills.” 

Fast-forward to 2019 and several meetings in between, the letter said that in June 2019, the contractor requested the Department to “foreclose the contract amicably.” The letter quoted the contactor as claiming that the work was suspended in 2010 “due to non availability of funds.” It also stated that the contractor will not raise any claims “if the work contract is foreclosed amicably.”

Based on the request from the contractor, it said that the department proposed foreclosure on “As is where is” basis and a detailed financial statement was prepared, according to which the balance due to the contractor was worked out to be Rs 49.28 lakh. 

With regard to the pending work, the letter said, “The PWD (R&B) Dimapur Division shall be asked to prepare a detailed assessment/estimate, as per existing NPWD SOR, of the balance works required to be carried out to complete the project and the same shall be submitted to the government for approval and fresh fund allocation, since the sanctioned amount under the NLCPR scheme has been fully utilized.”   

On February 21, independent technical consultants hired by the Nagaland government inspected the bridge. According to PWD (R&B) officials, who accompanied the consultants to the site, the experts will assess the bridge structure over the next two days while taking samples for laboratory analysis. The day’s inspection was preceded by another team of independent consultants analyzing the soil composition. 

According to the SDO (TC), Chief Engineer (R&B), the reports of the consultants will be forwarded to the government for necessary action. 

Meanwhile, villagers in the vicinity have to rely on a wire-supported bamboo bridge. The people of the area had even crowd-sourced funds to lay a deck in 2017-18. One more deck is required to fill the gap.