Butwal-Narayanghat road expansion on hold due to workers’ strikeProject contractor says the workers did not report to work despite the agreement that was reached on December 22.
The Butwal-Narayanghat road section expansion project has been on a halt for the last 15 days due to protests by labourers demanding minimum wage.
Around 1,000 labourers working for the project have gone on a strike accusing the Chinese contractor of not paying them the minimum wage. The workers complained that the contractor made them work 15-hour shifts and refused to provide them contracts.
On December 22, the workers’ union representatives and the contractor sat down for talks and agreed to resume the project work from the next day. But the workers did not report to work.
On Tuesday, the contractor agreed to appoint workers on a contract basis, provide insurance, security equipment, overtime pay, monthly salary, and ID cards.
Bhuminanda Dhakal, manager of China State Engineering Corporation, the contractor company, said, “We cannot address all of their demands. So far, we have already held discussions with the workers thrice, but they have not resumed the work.”
According to him, some of the union leaders are behind this.
“Now, they are demanding that we employ them permanently. This is their latest demand we can’t meet.”
Assistant Chief District Officer Mohan Bahadur Thapa, the contractor, and the agitating workers reached an agreement on December 22 to resume work, but the workers are yet to return to the site. “Both the parties agreed to resume work. We will look into the matter,” he said.
It has been almost two years since the expansion work along the 114 km-long Butwal-Narayanghat road stretch began. But only two percent of the work has been completed so far. Work related to the replacing of old bridges and culverts has not progressed. The government had awarded the project worth Rs 17 billion to upgrade the road section to a six-lane one in the urban areas, four-lane in the forest area, and three-lane in the hilly areas of Daunne.
The project work which started from March 2019 should have been completed by April 2022. The contractor initiated the work dividing the Butwal-Narayanghat road into two sections—Daunne to Gaidakot and Danunne to Butwal. But there has been little progress so far.
Sanokaji Dangol, who has been leading the workers’ protest, could not be contacted despite several attempts.