Japan assures help to build tunnel road

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

May 19, 2014-

Japan has shown strong interest in building the proposed Nagdhunga-Naubise tunnel and has assured the government of assistance for the project which would shorten the main land route linking the Kathmandu valley with the outside world, said government officials.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is currently preparing a preliminary design of the 2.2-km tunnel that will bore through the hills in the west of the valley.

Madhu Marashini, joint secretary at the Finance Ministry, said that Japan would help to implement the project if the current study shows it to be feasible.

“We have been officially corresponding with JICA regarding Japanese cooperation in the project,” he said. “Japanese assistance has been largely assured since we discussed the project with JICA’s director for South Asia two months ago.”

However, he said that it has not been confirmed whether the assistance would be a grant or a loan. As a gesture of commitment to the project, the Japanese government will be taking a high-level team of Nepali officials to Japan to observe Japanese tunnel technology. There are several tunnel roads in the country.

A two-member team consisting of Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure, and the director general of the Department of Roads is scheduled to leave on a four-day trip to Japan on Tuesday. Sitaula said that they were being taken on an observation mission to Japan as it was eager to finance the project.

After the Nepal government asked Japan for help to build the tunnel, the two sides signed an agreement to prepare a preliminary design of the project. “The preliminary design is expected to be ready within two to three months,” said Sitaula. “Subsequently, a detailed design will be made.”

The Nagdhunga-Naubise section of Tribhuvan Highway has a steep gradient and many switchbacks resulting in traffic congestion and risks of road accidents.

Considering this longstanding problem, the government had been planning to build a tunnel on the Nagdhunga-Naubise segment and had also conducted a feasibility study last year.

Published: 20-05-2014 10:47

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