IMPHAL, Oct 22: Feared for its turbulence and un-predictable nature for decades, crossing the Chakpi river at Serou section will pose no such threats as the longest bridge in Manipur is all set for inauguration on October 24 by the Chief Mi-nister Okram Ibobi Singh.
At 253.35 metres the Chakpi Bridge will be the longest construction ever in the State.
Till date, the Barak bailey Suspension bridge over Ba-rak river on the Imphal- Jiribam route of National Highway-37 (erstwhile NH-53) is the second longest in the State.
The Chakpi Bridge, construction of which started in 2008 after sanction of fund under the Special Plan Assistance a year earlier, is 12 metres in width, including the footpath.
The bridge will establish connectivity between Ser-ou and various other villa- ges in the interior areas upto the Indo-Myanmar border with the Sugnu-Chakpi-karong State Highway.
It is expected that the bridge will not only ensure convenient mode of transportation and boost econo- my of the interior villages but will boost health care initiative of the Government to remote villages such as Wangkho, Haipijang, Sil-kai, Ukon, Thinggangphai, K Phailen and Molnem to name a few.
The relief Chakpi Bridge will provide could be sum-med up from the expression of some Serou residents whom a team of The Sangai Express interacted.
A woman vendor plying her trades at Serou market, 80-year old Longjam Dasumati Devi confessed that the local residents had initially dismissed as far-fetched the official announcement for construction of the bridge.
Recounting that in the past people settled at Serou and beyond were familiar with travel and transportation related hardships especially during rainy seasons as the Chakpi river flow was very swift and unpredictable, the elderly woman said the only mode of crossing the river while in spate was through a tiny dug-out.
Even though another slightly larger canoe was used to cross the river after some years there was still apprehension of capsize of the only means of transportation, she said and remembered the old days when people had to wait for long hours at the river bank hoping the tide will recede.
With the soil in Serou and adjoining areas being very fertile for vegetable plantation the produce had to be brought to Imphal the return journey normally ends at dusk, she said narrating her past ordeals.
Another vegetable vendor Nameirakpam Tomalei Devi has a similar tale to tell recounting those days when she and many other women had to stay overnight at the river bank, separated from their young children, for their journey back home used to be frequently prevented by the turbulent flow of the Chakpi river.
After trading off vegetable loads at Imphal market reaching home before dusk was out of the question in the past, she said controlling her emotions while narrating that on a number of occasion she spent sleepless nights at the river bank for there were none to look after her two young children at home.
apart from the adults of the village, students endured no less difficulties as they had to reach school in time inspite of the crossing the river on the canoe normally consuming half an hour.
The problem get even more grievous when it came to emergency matters, expressed Heikrujam Gourmani and Kamal Karke, both conceding that they used to keep a strict vigil for safety of the construction workers for they wished for early completion of the bridge.
Even though the formal inauguration is only hours away people from either side of the Chakpi river have already been reaping the benefit as various mode of transport services have already commenced from Serou and nearby towns.
When contacted Works Minister K Ranjit disclosed that following incidents of abduction of workers and other disruptive acts by activists of armed groups the Chakpi Bridge could be completed on schedule, tentatively set for last year. Regretting loss of life when the only means of crossing the Chakpi River was on boat/canoe, the Minister contended that fervent appeal to construct a bridge made to previous Governments failed to evoke any positive response. However, with the Congress-led Secular Progressive Front Government coming to power in the State the cherished aspiration of Serou and people settled in remote areas for a convenient mode of transportation has materialise, he said and applauded effort and dedication of the Public Works Department officials.
Source: The Sangai Express