Road expansion drive along Mahendra Highway halted as a byproduct of coronavirus outbreakSeveral officials representing the contractor haven’t returned to Nepal since they travelled to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year last month.
China State Construction Engineering Corporation has undertaken the job to expand the highway. The corporation has employed 40 Chinese nationals for the drive. Out of the 40, 15 high-ranking officials are currently stuck in China, as the country is gripped by the coronavirus outbreak.
“Since those 15 individuals make all the decisions, we cannot resume work in their absence,” said Sujan Adhikari, chief of the Gaindakot-Daunne road section. China and several other countries across the world have imposed varying degrees of travel restrictions in an attempt to prevent the outbreak from spreading.
According to Adhikari, the chief contractor of the road expansion project has corresponded with Nepali officials, saying the team’s arrival will be delayed by at least a half month more. Several works such as the felling of trees and the construction of culverts and bridges are yet to begin due to the absence of Chinese officials. The project has faced several obstacles—primarily, the locals’ concern over tree felling—since it began in early 2019.
The coronavirus outbreak, which started in Wuhan in China in late 2019, has claimed over 2,300 lives, infecting over 77,000 across the world so far. The outbreak is expected to have long-lasting ramifications to the global economy.