National

None of the national pride road projects set to meet deadline

  • Citing slow works in the past decade, ministry sets new time frame
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Dec 7, 2018-

Not a single road project of ‘national pride’ will meet the deadline set when their construction began a decade ago. This has prompted the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to push their deadlines.

Presenting the status of the projects to the National Concerns and Coordination Committee of the National Assembly on Thursday, officials at the ministry said the deadline has been extended by around two years in the lack of expected progress so far.

Currently, there are six projects overseen by the Infrastructure Ministry which include the Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway being constructed by the Nepal Army. The Pushpa Lal (Mid-hill) Highway and Postal Highway that run east-west, and Karnali, Koshi and Kaligandaki corridor highways that connect north-south are other national pride road projects lagging behind schedule.

The average completion rate of these projects which started in 2007 and 2008 stands at 30 percent. Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at the ministry, said construction of the highways which was slow earlier has gained momentum and they plan to complete them by 2022-23.

The highways would have been ready in the next two years if they met the set deadline. He said that the construction was slowed last fiscal year as the country transitioned to the federal structure with necessary arrangements. “However, progress in the first quarter of the current fiscal year is satisfactory,” Adhikari told the parliamentary committee meeting. Reports presented to the House committee show hardly 230 kilometres of the 1,786km Pushpa Lal Highway was blacktopped since works began in the fiscal year 2008-09. Still 100 km track has not been opened in the difficult hilly terrain.

 

Progress of the Postal Highway that runs across the country’s southern belt is not satisfactory either. Only 39 percent of 1,792km road has been over in a decade since construction started. Among the 219 bridges required, construction is over only of 75.

The government is yet to open the track for around 14km of the Koshi corridor highway which connects China and India with eastern Nepal. Blacktopping has not started as gravelling is going on mostly. The fate of the Kaligandaki corridor is no different. Though the contractors have almost completed opening the track, a large section is yet to be blacktopped.

The Karnali corridor highway, which is expected to ease the lives of people from the most remote region of the country, is being built at a snail’s pace. A 90km track has been opened but blacktopping has hardly begun in most sections.

Following the presentation, Committee Chairperson Dil Kumari Rawal directed the government to ensure that all the projects are completed within the extended deadline. “The committee is ready to play the coordinating role. People can’t wait any longer,” she said.

Published: 07-12-2018 09:53

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