Phayao villagers band together to build key bridge as govt agencies dither
Residents in Chiang Kham’s Ban Pha Lat community in Phayao teamed up to construct a vital wooden bridge with their bare hands – for the fifth time in three years – after no government agencies stepped in to help.
A concrete bridge that was built by Phayao’s Rural Roads Department broke in 2020 after being hit by a flash flood.
When no government agency stepped forward to repair the sole bridge, Ban Pha Lat residents banded together and built a wooden bridge as an iron one was way too expensive.
Village headman Somsak Kengdecha said residents in the area have needed the bridge for more than 30 years to cross over to agricultural lands.
He said villagers have built and rebuilt the wooden bridge five times in three years as the Mae Lao Subdistrict Administrative Organisation (SAO) helped “only a bit before it disappeared”.
The community has always hoped a government agency would step in and construct a proper bridge.
Former Palang Pracharath MP Thammanat Prompow inspected the structure on June 5 and ordered related organisations to help before tropical storm Chaba damages or breaks the bridge again this month.
Phayao’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department (DDPM) said at first that an iron bridge would cost 200,000 baht, and the Mae Lao SAO subsequently promised to come up with the needed money.
However, the DDPM later changed the construction cost to 400,000 baht. The SAO replied that it clearly did not have that kind of money.
Somsak said the organisations had flatly ignored his pleas for help.
The villagers have been affected as this is harvesting season, he said. Without a proper bridge it would be difficult for the community to tend their crops or collect them.
Villagers want the organisations to visit the area and help because they need to find more wood to repair the bridge each time a flash flood destroys it.
The Rural Roads Department said it had submitted an application for money for the purpose.
It expects the budget of 16-17 million baht to be approved in 2023 for construction of an 80-metre bridge.
The Rural Roads Department has asked the villagers to wait as the department has already sent an urgent application to its main branch.