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Bouddha residents see lighter side of life during monsoon ordeal on roads

  • Where river flows
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jul 12, 2018-Seeing the waterlogging on Kathmandu’s decrepit roads this monsoon, many would imagine Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli plans to navigate Nepal flag-bearing ships through the waterways to make our country prosperous, a retailer with PG Wodehousian sense of humour told the Post on Wednesday.

Sarcasm aside, the frustration levels of daily commuters are so high that some people like Ram Gautam, who runs a fancy shop in Bouddha, have begun to see the lighter side of life in this city.

Gautam specifically directed his tongue-in cheek remark to the deplorable state of the Chabahil-Sankhu road section. “There are so many potholes here, aspiring football players could hone their dribbling skills while trying to avoid the potholes,” he said.

The 11.5-km road section is virtually a pond. Incessant rain over the last week has made its condition even worse. This mess prevails for the last three years. Successive governments have made politically right noises, but done nothing to fix the pathetic conditions of roads.

The deadline to complete the road expansion of this section was December 2017. It entailed demolishing illegal houses and widening the road to 22 metres from the existing eight metres with 2-metre wide pavements on either side, 50-cm-wide tick drains and drainage hume pipes under the pavement with the actual driveway 17 metres wide. Reads awesome in print, but the authorities have done zilch so far.

Many retailers like Gautam suffer because of the bad condition of the roads. His business has dropped because of the waterlogged area in front of his shop.

“Customers do not enter my shop, even if they want to buy some items,” said Gautam. He looks worried. He has to pay rent and he is clueless how to raise it if customers avoid his shop.

Chuchepati resident Bishnu Karki’s plight is worse. The school-teacher had twice ‘drowned’ in muddy water after falling from his motorbike while returning home from Lalitpur.

“My wife has confiscated my motorbike key. She is adamant I should not ride the bike in such bad conditions. This has affected my daily routine. It takes nearly two hours for me to reach school,” said Karki.

In order to nudge the callous authorities, residents have staged several protest rallies. The government continues to remain tone deaf.

Giving vent to their ire in a graphically sarcastic and innovative manner, residents planted paddy on the flooded roads. Some uploaded photographs of youth posing as fishermen. These pictures have widely circulated in the social media.  

Residents had called for a strike on this road section on Wednesday, but they refrained. “We did not want to hinder vehicular movement because this road leads to the world heritage site--Bouddha.

Samata Human Right and Civil Society President Norsang Sherpa said, “The muddy road has made every household dirty. It is a grave health hazard for all.”

The society raises its pitch against government’s failure to fix roads and its inability to deliver other matters they promised.

The bad road is an ordeal not only for daily commuters, mainly students, teachers, and businesspersons, foreign tourists too face difficulties while heading to Bouddhanath Stupa.   

Taiwanese citizen Chen Ya-ting who visited Bouddhanath on Sunday was shocked to see the waterlogged road. “I had planned to meditate here, but the area is full of water,” said Chen. The bad roads have decreased the number of tourists according to local businesspersons.

The Post asked when the road would be complete, Kathmandu Valley Development Authority (KVDA) Chief Executive Officer Bhai Kaji Tiwari said, “The Supreme Court has given an order to work ‘addressing the demand of applicants’. It has not given the detail of its complete decision.

“House owners demand money for the land they encroached on the road. If we comply, the government should provide money for road encroachers all over the country. The court has told us to find an alternative road while carrying the expansion task. This is impossible.”

Earlier in May, the government got the road section from Chabahil to Hyatt Hotel in Bouddha asphalted in haste ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit.

Residents had urged the government to asphalt rest of the road section, but the government did not comply citing various reasons.

Published: 12-07-2018 08:13

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