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8 years on, road construction still incomplete

- BHIM BAHADUR SINGH, JAJARKOT

Dec 17, 2017-

It’s been eight years since construction of Jajarkot section of the Mid-hill Highway began. But the work has not been completed till date, while contractors hired to build the road segment have received payment despite failing to finish the work.

The Jajarkot section of the Mid-hill Highway stretches 103 km from Chaurjahari in Rukum to Suyada of Dailekh. The government has spent over Rs1 billion to build the section. Yet it has not been able to complete the work due to delay in opening of 5km long track. The construction of the track is not yet complete due to delay in construction of around half a dozen bridges over rivers and rivulets and negligence of contractors.

What is surprising is that Western Section Project Office of Mid-hill Highway located at Dang had submitted a report two years ago stating works related to opening of the track in Jajarkot segment had completed, it has been learnt. This indifferent attitude of concerned authorities has denied access of transport network to residents of the mid-western Nepali district of Jajarkot. 

The construction of Jajarkot section of the Mid-hill Highway—which is also referred to as Pushpalal Highway and stretches 1,776 km from eastern to far-western part of Nepal—and construction of Dailekh-Rukum section of the highway had started around the same time. While vehicles started plying on Dailekh-Rukum section of the highway two years ago, many are not hopeful about completion of works at Jajarkot section anytime soon, according to Man Bahadur Singh, a local from Dashera.

“If bridges are built over Chedagar and Jhupra rivers and if one-km track is built at Mantabhir, vehicles can start operating on Kudu-Suyada segment of Jajarkot section,” said Singh.

But construction of that segment is unlikely to be completed anytime soon because Dibyajyoti Construction, the contractor hired to build track in Mantabhir, has left the work halfway stating presence of hard rocks, according to Shuva Raj Neupane, division engineer of the project. A joint venture between Dhananjay and Siddhartha construction companies, on the other hand, has not built track in Kaaldhunga-bhir area, Neupane said.

Contractors that fail to complete their works on time are generally fired. But in this case they seem to have been rewarded, as both the contractors have been given payments despite their inability to finish assigned tasks.

“Records show both the contractors hired to build tracks in Mantabhir and Kaaldhunga-bhir area have received full payment,” Neupane said, adding, “Many contractors have not shown keen interest to build track in Mantabhir area because of presence of hard rocks.”

Neupane, however, said he had recently started overseeing the project and is yet to get details on implementation. 

“What I know is that many contractors had taken advance payments. They then outsourced works to others and fled the scene,” he said. 

The government had hired around 18 contractors to build the Jajarkot section. Of them, around six have failed to complete works on time. As a result, condition of road segments that were built has started deteriorating. “We have already started upgrading the road section in Rukum,” said Neupane. “Also, designs of bridge at Cheda River are being framed.”

Published: 17-12-2017 08:37

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