The company had started the road expansion project back in June 2014, and was supposed to complete the project by mid-July 2016. Owing to the 2015 earthquakes and the India-imposed trade embargo, the project’s deadline was extended to July 15 this year. But the company has completed only 47 percent of the work so far.
“Due to the bad condition of the road, the number of tourists who visit Nagarkot have gone down sharply, by almost 50 percent,” said Dhana Bahadur Lama, secretary of Nagarkot Nuldhm Tourist Development Committee.
According to Lama, hotels in Nagarkot today hardly receive 300 tourists on average in a day.
“When the road was in a good condition, we used to get around 1,000 tourists in a single day,” he said. Nagarkot is one of the most popular tourist spots on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley, with more than 100 hotels and restaurants. But the sorry state of the road means it takes more than two hours now to cover the distance which typically took not more than 45 minutes. Consequently, people are now opting to visit other tourist spots instead.
Tourism entrepreneurs place the blame directly on Shailung Construction’s Chairman Sharada Prasad Adhikari for being neglectful and idle.
“If this condition prolongs, we will not be in a condition to run our businesses. Everyone is suffering, but the contractor is indifferent,” said Gokul Lamichhane, managing director of Hotel Marigold in Nagarkot.
Chief District Officer of Bhaktapur Narayan Prasad Bhattarai said that his office had written several letters to Adhikari, but to no avail.
“I have tried to meet him in person as well, but he is not available,” said Bhatta. Two months ago, Mayor of Changunarayan Municipality Shom Mishra had also sent a letter to the Home Ministry regarding the issue.
“Recently, I went to the minister’s residence to meet him, and requested him to give top priority to the construction of the road section. He has agreed to do so,” said Mishra.
Hopes were high among the locals when the Home Ministry had launched an offensive against the non-performing and underperforming construction companies two months ago. But it soon fizzled out as the government did not take any action.
When the Post contacted Narendra Koirala, project manager at the Department of Roads, he said that the project’s progress in the last few months was good.
“We have been keeping tabs on the contractor’s work progress. We have even reached a new agreement. Under the deal, the company will have to pay Rs147,000 every day as a penalty for delays. And if the work is not completed within 120 days, we will scrap the contract,” said Koirala.