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Decade into construction, Bhaktapur-Nagarkot road yet to be over affecting locals

2023 Aug 12, 10:57, Bhaktapur
Source: Google

Around a decade into the construction, the Bhaktapur-Nagarkot road has yet to be over. The road has potholes everywhere and blacktopping work has stalled in the area from the Kharipati barracks of the Nepal Army to the front of the Changunarayan Municipality office.

The road has cracks at many places posing a risk of landslide including along the turn at the barracks, and potholes filled with the water. The road turns muddy during monsoon and dusty during dry season affecting the people residing on the road sides. The solid water from the unmanaged drainage enters and floods the houses on the roadsides. So much so, a person died in the course of the construction of the road in the Bastola settlement.

Project completion deadline extends ninth times Started in June, 2014 with two years of the completion target, the project deadline has been extended ninth times so far. According to the latest deadline that took place on 19 July 2023, the project should be completed on 14 January 2024, said sub engineer Sumita Dhukuchhu of the Bhaktapur Nagarkot Road Planning Office, who is assigned to test the quality of the road.

“Work on around 500 metres of road remains to be completed. The construction company has pledged to repair the damaged road, and hand the project over after completion in two months,” she said.

The Shailung Construction and Indian Aravali Infrapower Limited jointly won the contract to construct the project at the initial cost of Rs 270 million provided by the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) as loans. But the project cost has now reached Rs 310 million including VAT, she said.

Around five months ago, the Road Improvement and Development Project Directorate under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport had issued a notice warning to cancel the contract within 14 days if the 15.6 km road did not complete within the deadline. During a monitoring on 2 March, 2023, then Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Narayan Kaji Shrestha had warned of cancelling the contract of the construction company if it failed to complete the project within 13 April, 2023. On the occasion, Ambassador of India to Nepal Naveen Srivastava was also present.

A team of representatives of political parties and people's representatives led by Chief District Officer, Bhaktapur Khagendra Prasad Rijal, which recently monitored the road, concluded that the road construction is of poor quality.

On 14 November, 2021, then Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Renu Kumari Yadav had also monitored the project and warned of cancelling the contract of the construction company if the project failed to be complete within two months.

During the monitoring by the two ministers, the local people urged them to take initiatives in completing the project soon.

Earlier 29 July, 2019, the Development and Technology Committee under the House of Representatives during a monitoring had asked the contractor to blacktop the road for the Visit Nepal, 2020.

Similarly, on 20 November, 2019, a team led by joint secretary Yam Lal Bhusal inspected the road at the direction of then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Also, various separate teams involving then Minister for Physical Planning Basanta Nembang, then minister and lawmaker Mahesh Basnet, then mayor of Changunarayan Municipality Som Prasad Mishra, the municipality mayor Jiban Khatri and deputy mayor Ramesh Budhathoki time and again inspected the project, and assured of the project completion soon.

A team led by then municipality mayor Mishra had a separate meeting with the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and then PMs Sher Bahadur Deuba and Oli demanding the completion of the road soon. "We met and submitted a memorandum to PMs and ministers demanding the road completion soon but to no avail so far. I feel the contractor is more powerful than the government," he said.

Although the project nears completion, it requires repair before completion due to low quality work on blacktopping, said CDO Rijal. He said in coordination with the local government, the district administration office and stakeholders, pressure would be put on the construction company to complete the project before the coming Dashain festival that is taking place in more than three months this year.

Stating that despite repeated calls, the project did not visit the municipality for a talk, the municipality deputy mayor Budhathoki said the municipality is ready to coordinate and resolve problems (if any) facing the project. Political leaders and local people including Rastriya Prajatantra Party central deputy general secretary Rabindra Pratap Shah and district chairperson of the Nepal Workers Peasants Party Nhuchhe Bhakta Phoju have demanded action against the construction company.

Ward chair of the municipality-6 demanded the completion of the project before the Nagarkot Road Festival that is taking place before coming to Dashain.

The project’s sub engineer Sadhana Tiwari has blamed the Nepal Army for not allowing the construction of a drainage system which has caused the release of the water from the drainage at Ghumaune into the road. Similarly, the release of the wastewater from Shiva Shikhar cooperative, and from various factories in the area into the road has caused potholes while landslides at the U-turn caused by land plotting have halted the road construction from time to time.

A small drainage system built by the municipality along the feeder roads, and the deposition of river materials along the road damaged the road, she said, adding that additionally, there is a risk of the water flowing into the road when the culverts are filled.

Anup Adhikari, the project manager of the Shailung Construction, said the project deadline was extended as per the Public Procurement Regulations (12th Amendment), and the project would be handed over after completion within two months. Electricity poles at the Nagarkot Bus Park should be moved, and for this, payments have been made to the Nepal Electricity Authority. Remaining construction work will be completed shortly after the poles are moved, he said.

Ramesh Giri


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