Shanghai group set to hand over Kalanki-Koteshwor road project to Kathmandu

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Dec 12, 2018-

The 10.5-km Kalanki-Koteshwor road expansion project is finally going to be handed over to Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project (KRRIP) by Shanghai Construction Group Co Ltd, a Chinese company who had started the project in 2013.

Officials at the KRRIP, under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, said the road expansion work by the Chinese side is complete and the company is set to hand over the reins to KRRIP on December 15.  

“As per the information we have received, Shanghai Group is ready to hand over the project to us. But we don’t know when the Chinese government is going to make an official announcement of the opening of this project,” said Sujan Khanal, project manager at KRRIP. “The Chinese officials have asphalted the middle part of the remaining 1.4km stretch from Balkhu to Kalanki. The side track will now be asphalted by the Nepal government,” added Khanal.

Khanal said Shanghai Group will not be expanding the deadline. In the past, the company had extended the deadline for the road expansion three times. The road expansion task, which had started in 2013 with China granting Nepal Rs5.13 billion, was slated to be complete in 2017. Due to various delays, such as the 2015 earthquakes and the border blockade imposed by India, the project’s completion date was extended to July 2018. It was later extended to mid-December.

The Shanghai Group started the operation of the stretch from Balku to Koteshwor six months ago. Two bridges in Balkhu have also been completed and in operation recently. And since mid-August, the company also opened Nepal’s first-800 metre underpass at Kalanki. With the development of the underpass, which stretches from Khasi Bazaar to Bafal Chowk, commuters around the Kalanki area have now been relieved of traffic congestion. However, many believe that this stretch of road is a safety hazard as it lacks zebra crossings, dividers, traffic lights, night lights, properly designated bus stops and over-head bridges.

According to Metropolitan Traffic Police Range (MTPR), Lalitpur, over a dozen people have died in the past six months alone, while hundreds have been injured, on this stretch of road. Officials believe this is due to a lack of basic elements of road infrastructure. “The road looks good and attractive, but it’s risky,” said Sitaram Hachhethu, chief at MTPR.

Many urban planners say the accidents are being caused because the road has been constructed in an expressway model. They say this problem can be solved if the government invests in adding a few required infrastructure. “If only the government invests a little amount of money, all those infrastructures can be added and we can make this road safer,” said urban planner and former government secretary Kishor Thapa.  

After receiving mounting pressure from various corners regarding the safety of the newly constructed road, the government has announced to construct six over-head bridges in Balkumari, Satdobato, Mahalaxmisthan, Ekantakuna, Balkhu Khasibazar, and Sanepa, all of which will be in a distance of one km. The Chinese government has already constructed eight bridges and three overhead bridges in Koteshwor, Gwarko and Bagdole.

Published: 12-12-2018 07:34

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