Nepal: Children cross river by cables in the air to go to school as world’s most dangerous road
Nepal has announced plans to replace perilous cable crossings with suspension bridges following tragedy
Nepal is an adventure holiday destination for many tourists. But for locals in remote areas, hauling themselves across fast-flowing rivers by cable ropeways and wire bridges is a daily fact of life.
For children, it has been called the world’s most dangerous school run. People use the cables to haul themselves over the churning waters to reach work, go shopping and meet relatives.
In the Benighat district of central Nepal, there are many such cables strung across the Trishuli river. The cables are lifelines for villagers but concern has also mounted about their dangers after a 2010 tragedy in which five fell to their deaths.
K P Oli, the prime minister, recently announced a two-year plan to replace these perilous cable crossings with 366 suspension bridges in the surrounding area.
In Dhaing village, some children use just a loop of cable to slide across the river to reach their school on the other bank.
Other “commuters” use flimsy wooden crates and baskets to propel themselves or their possessions across the river by a pulley system.
Versions of the cable crossings, known locally as tuin, have used by Nepalese to cross rivers for several generations.
The country’s rugged mountainous terrain and scattered settlements mean that construction of bridges and roads is often extremely expensive and challenging.
But pressure for footbridges to be erected has been grown since a 2010 tragedy when five people died when the basket carrying them plunged into the Trishuli. Several others have suffered injuries, including lost fingers, as they have operated the cables.
Some of the high wires have been improved recently with the addition of supporting pillars or by upgrading the boxes.
A government investigation committee has outlined the dangers of cable crossings for children and identified locations for suspension footbridges.
But only one has been built so far and many villagers still opt for the shorter rope bridge routes.
“When the river is flooded, I try to avoid it and take the suspension bridge,” Shreyasa Kumar, a villager, told Barcroft News. “It’s a longer route, but safe.
“My family is scared, because five people lost their lives in an accident that occurred in late 2010. I have children. If something happens to me they will be orphaned.”
The first of these opened in January 2016, connecting the nearby villages of Manthali and Gimdi.