Print Edition - 2019-03-17 | News
Kathmandu Valley’s overhead bridges in dire need of repair
- Urban planners say dilapidated structures pose a serious threat to pedestrians
Mar 17, 2019-
Over half a dozen overhead bridges in the Capital are in a dilapidated condition, owing to a lack of effective maintenance from Kathmandu Metropolitan City.The Kathmandu Metropolitan City had handed over 12 overhead bridges to Innovative Concept Nepal in 2000.
As per the contract, the private company, owned by Manoj Kumar Bhetwal, could lease shops built under the bridges and was supposed to maintain the structures, but the company has hardly done any substantial work except carry out minor repairs a year ago—that too after media reports were published about the dilapidated condition of the overhead bridges.
The Post too, in October 2017, had carried a story on the sorry state of the overhead bridges. After the Post’s report, Innovative Concept Nepal had taken the lead to maintain the bridges—and shops that run in and around it—but concrete changes have hardly been made.
“The company only plastered the steps of the bridges, but didn’t do anything to the pillars,” said a man who runs a shop in one of overhead bridges in Ratnapark. He refused to give his name.“I don’t think it’s safe to run a shop here. But I have no other option, as this spot helps me get a regular earning,” he added.
A majority of the city’s overhead bridges are in the Ratnapark area. Six of these bridges between Sahidgate and Jamal were built by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City in the late 1990s and remaining others were constructed under public-private partnership. These bridges, however, have now developed cracks. Iron rods that support these structures are also now rusted.
Ram Thapa, a senior engineer at the metropolis, says that the lifespan of an overhead bridge is not more than 20 years. And experts such as Thapa warn that these bridges are a serious risk to pedestrians.
“These bridges can’t hold over 100 people at the same time. They need to be repaired as soon as possible,” said Suman Meher Shrestha, a senior urban planner at the Town Development Fund.
“If these bridges are not repaired with technical audit, they could collapse and it could be fatal,” said Shrestha. He have the example of a recent bridge collapse in India, where six people were killed and more than 30 people were injured in Mumbai when a pedestrian bridge connecting a train station with a road collapsed.
“These bridges are already over two decades old and they may collapse any day. We need to learn from Thursday’s Mumbai accident and the metropolis should take immediate action,” said Shrestha.
Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi, who leads a five-member team to inspect the infrastructure in the metropolis, said her team will soon monitor the bridges and take the initiatives to repair them as per the need.
Khadgi also said that CCTV cameras and lights will be installed to ensure that unlawful activities are not carried out on the bridges.
“There has been talk about repairing the overhead bridges, even Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya has instructed
to repair all these bridges, for which the metropolis has allocated Rs 1.5 million to Rs 2 million,” said Ishwor Man Dangol, spokesperson for the metropolis.
Published: 17-03-2019 10:22