KP Sharma Oli, former prime minister and chair of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), recently claimed that his UML government replaced all high-wire crossings across the country with engineered bridges in the three years it was in power. At a programme organised by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) in Kathmandu on October 21, 2022, he claimed:
“Long ago, there weren’t any bridges or roads. But ever since the UML came to the government, it built bridges [suspension and concrete] and roads everywhere. Life was really tough earlier. People crossed the Trishuli River precariously on wire crossings. Look at the Trishuli now! It now has suspension and cement and concrete bridges. “All the wire crossings across the country were displaced [by engineered bridges] in three years.”
Nepali language news sites such as Nepal Press and Drishti News reported Oli’s claim. Did the UML government replace all high-wire crossings in the country with engineered bridges within three years? Nepal Check fact-checked the claim.
After UML chief Oli became prime minister for the first time with the backing of the Maoists on October 11, 2022, his government’s first decision was to replace wire crossings across the country with bridges within two years (by mid-October 2017). Following the decision, the government ordered the Suspension Bridge Division to survey high-wire crossings across the country.
According to the division, of the 198 high-wire crossings in operation at the time, the government planned to replace only 143. In other places, the plans were shelved due to various challenges such as the proximity to the Nepal-India border and topographical barriers.
When Oli stepped down on July 24, 2016, the government’s plan to replace all high-wire crossings with suspension bridges was still because the suspension bridges were constructed only in 49 places within the deadline.
Oli’s second term, which began after his party received the backing of the CPN (Maoist Center), started on February 15, 2018. The government was run by a coalition, contrary to Oli’s claim that it was a ‘UML government’. It is worth mentioning that he headed the government following the merger between the UML and Maoist Center on May 17, 2018.
By the time he stepped down, half a dozen wire crossings were still in operation in the Mahakali River of Darchula district. A fortnight after Oli was ousted, on July 30, 2021, Nepali national Jay Singh Dhami went missing while crossing the Mahakali River after the Indian border security forces cut the wire crossing. At the time, the UML criticised the government for its failure to talk to India about the case.
Similarly, during the fiscal year 2021/022, more than five billion rupees were allocated to replace high-wire crossings with bridges. According to the 2021 economic survey published by the Ministry of Finance on May 28, 2021, 14 of the 143 high-wire crossings identified as of February 2021 (more than three years after the formation of the KP Oli government) were yet to be replaced with engineered bridges.
A news report aired on Kantipur TV on August 13, 2021, stated that 11 high-wire crossings were still in operation in the Mahakali River. Even though Oli became prime minister twice, the high-wire crossings weren’t replaced, as per the report.
Latest status of wire crossings
We spoke to Rudra Singh Tamang, spokesperson for the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, to know about the latest situation of high-wire crossings. Tamang said that as of the end of June 2022, a lone high-wire bridge out of the 143 identified was yet to be replaced by an engineered bridge.
A news report confirmed Tamang’s figures. Of the 143 high-wire crossings, 142 have been replaced, according to a news report in Gorkhapatra on August 21, 2022. The last remaining high-wire crossing, as per the report, is in Pancheswarghat, Baitadi.
The claim made by UML chairman KP Sharma Oli that the CPN-UML government replaced all high-wire crossings across the country with suspension bridges in three years is false.
|Claim||Claimed by||Nepal Check Verdict|
The CPN-UML government replaced all high-wire crossings across the country with suspension bridges in its three years in power.
|Former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli||False|
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