Agitated residents, traders shut down unrepaired Bouddha road

  • At least four protesters and a member of the police force were injured in the brief scuffle
- ANISH REGMI, Kathmandu

May 10, 2019-

The Bouddha Trade Association, local residents and business owners in Bouddha shut down the Tushal-Jorpati Road stretch for hours on Thursday, demanding an immediate construction of the 11.46-km Chabahil-Sankhu Road section that has been stalled for years.

Protesters set up barriers, burnt tyres and abandoned wires along the road for five hours from 8am. This led to a clash with the security personnel.

Four protesters and a member of the police force were injured in the incident. The situation was contained after police fired two rounds of tear gas to disperse the protesters.

“Dust is a major problem as vehicles move on the gravelled road, throughout the day. The condition worsens when it rains, resulting in frequent accidents,” said Kishore Yonjan, a local who participated in the protest. “And this has been our reality for four years.”

Expansion of the Chabahil-Sankhu Road stretch was divided into four sections with each section being awarded to separate contractor. But four years on, less than half of the road stretch has been completed despite innumerable pleas to the authorities concerned to ensure speedy construction.

According to Yonjan, the locals had even pitched the idea of building the road themselves with their own money but the government rejected it. “If we could reconstruct the Bouddhanath Stupa, we can build the road ourselves too,” he said.

The incomplete road stretch has also affected locals’ health and business in one of the major tourist sites in the Capital. “We have developed eye, lungs and skin problems and many businesses have moved to other areas,” said Dharma Lama, who runs a handicraft shop in Bouddha.

“How long can we tolerate the dust? People here have developed all kinds of health problems and our business is ruined.”

Last year, the locals had staged protests twice demanding timely repair of the road. As a symbolic protest, they had planted rice saplings in the area which had enormous puddles, following which the authorities gravelled the area.

For the past one and a half years, local businesses have been raising Rs500 a month to manage the dust by sprinkling water on the road but it brings little respite. Hopes were high when the Chabahil-Tushal Road section was blacktopped last month, but the locals have lost patience as there has been no progress since.

The remaining stretch in Tushal is a perilous road, difficult to walk or navigate in a vehicle and the entire area is enveloped in clouds of dust.

“Our protests will continue until the contractors resume the construction works,” Lama said. The protesters, however, withdrew their agitation after the contractor agreed to resume construction works immediately.

Published: 10-05-2019 10:53

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