A bridge to fear

  • Kathmandu’s dilapidated flyovers could be a disaster in the waiting

Mar 18, 2019-

A recent report published in this paper highlighted how over half a dozen overhead bridges in the Capital city are in dilapidated condition because of lack of effective maintenance. Most of these flyovers are in the Ratna Park area. Built between 1998 and 2000, they have now developed cracks, and the steel trusses used to support these structures are quite naturally, rusted. Kathmandu Metropolitan City should address this problem immediately, failing which a disaster could be in the waiting.

In 2000, Kathmandu Metropolitan City handed over 12 overhead bridges to Innovative Concept Nepal. But the privately owned company has hardly done any substantial repair work. A few minor repairs were made here and there, but that was about it. On April 23, 2011, the metropolis extended the contract another 18 years, but it seems they are yet to change their old ways. What’s more, while the bridges are already in a sorry state, they have become a place for people to set up shops, even though they were originally built for people to cross the road. In the night, many even urinate and defecate on the bridges since there is no proper lighting. All these have exacerbated the issue further.

But one thing is very clear: The longer these bridges go without upgrades, the older they get, and the more likely they are to fall into dangerous disrepair. And the lack of action will pose a threat to public safety. Attacking the problem in dribs and drabs without a comprehensive plan isn’t going to solve this infrastructure problem.

Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi—who leads a five-member team to inspect infrastructure in the metropolis—said they would examine the bridges and take initiatives to repair them as per need. This is a welcome move. She has further intended to install CCTV cameras and lights to ensure that unlawful activities are not carried out on the bridges. These are definitely steps in the right direction, and the government should walk the talk and spring into action as soon as possible.

Also, there should be a body that can issue a report card on the country’s infrastructure, say every four years. Because infrastructures, once built, will not remain the same forever. The need to continually upgrade and repair them cannot be overstated. Beautiful, well-maintained overhead bridges not only make the city safe, they also make it look more beautiful and well managed.

Published: 18-03-2019 11:05

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