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Principal nailed in bridge fiasco - Lack of expertise led to faulty construction of bridge, says report

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  • Published 4.04.12

Shillong, April 3: A school principal has been held responsible for the collapse of a suspension footbridge over Didram river, which he had built in July last year to help his students and people of the area reach the main road more conveniently.

The bridge, built by principal Malaki M. Rimsu of Riverside Adventist Academy with school funds at Chichotcheng in East Garo Hills, collapsed on March 18.

Thirty-nine students and two US citizens who were visiting the institution to provide healthcare services, were injured in the mishap.

A magisterial probe report on the collapse submitted by extra assistant commissioner, P.D. Sangma to the East Garo Hills district administration last evening, said the inquiry revealed that Rimsu was responsible for the collapse of the bridge.

A copy of the report made available to The Telegraph today held the principal responsible for not obtaining proper technical approval from departments or authorities concerned before constructing the bridge.

The drawing and design was prepared by the technical wing of the directorate of the border areas development.

The principal had only sought technical advice from Henendro Sangma junior engineer, PWD subdivision, Barenggapara in East Garo Hills, without any proper supervision, the report said.

“ln the absence of proper technical supervision, anchorages have been prepared by tampering M.S. Steel (rod) by blacksmiths, which made the anchors weak and ultimately led to the collapse of the bridge,” the report said.

The East Garo Hills deputy commissioner Vijay Mantri said the administration would file a case against the principal, since the report pointed out his direct involvement.

According to the report, the principal gave his nod for the construction of the bridge on the basis of the approval of the managing committee of the school.

“The construction of the bridge was completed on July, 2011, as stated by the principal, and the amount utilised for the construction was Rs 1686,674. The amount was utilised from the school fund and there was no financial assistance from the government or missionaries,” the report added.

The bridge had collapsed when at least 70 people, mostly students, were crossing the river. The suspension bridge can bear the weight of only 30 at a time.

Among those injured was 15-year-old Ripamachi, who fractured her back.

Trevor Staten and Marisha Staten, the injured US couple in their thirties, were part of the four-member medical team from Walla University, Portland, which was visiting the school to provide healthcare services to students. While Trevor received minor injuries, Marisha fractured her back.