Butwal-Narayanghat road widening work moving at snail’s paceOnly around eight percent work of the road expansion project has been completed in three years and the contractor is lobbying for extension of project deadline.
Work on widening the Butwal-Narayanghat section of the East-West Highway is moving at a snail’s pace despite the completion deadline inching closer.
According to officials at the Butwal-Narayanghat Road Project, only around eight percent work has been completed so far. It is almost certain that the project will miss the deadline.
In February 2019, the Department of Roads had signed an agreement with China State Construction Engineering Corporation to implement the road project. As per the plan, the existing two-lane road has to be widened to six lanes within four years.
“How can the road project be completed on time with only eight percent of the work completed in three years?” said an engineer of the Butwal-Narayanghat Road Project. According to him, the contractor’s negligence is solely responsible for the delay.
The contractor had initiated the construction work of the Butwal-Narayanghat road in two sections—48km Daunne-Gaidakot section and 66-km Daunne-Butwal section. The road expansion work along the 114km Butwal-Narayanghat stretch was initiated with Rs 17 billion loan assistance from the Asian Development Bank.
A source at Korean Engineering Corporation, which is working on the road project under the Chinese contractor, said that the contractor has lobbied to extend the project’s deadline by a year stating that the construction work had been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Krishna Acharya, an engineer with the Butwal-Narayanghat Road Project, confirmed that the Chinese contractor has proposed an extension of the deadline. According to him, Nepali authorities have a clear stance that the contractor should complete the road work as per the earlier agreement.
“The delay by the company, which has a reputation for completing some big projects in other countries, is unnatural. The Department of Roads is worried by the lack of progress in the project,” said Acharya.
The Butwal-Narayanghat road section has become accident prone now with numerous potholes along the road caused mainly due to the road widening work. The contractor, however, refuses to fill the potholes. The road has even suffered damages in the main market areas.
“We held discussions with the representatives of the contractor many times. But the road’s condition hasn’t improved,” said Mohan Thapa, the assistant chief district officer of Nawalparasi (East). He underscored the need for immediate repairs as vehicular traffic will increase significantly during the upcoming Dashain and Tihar—two major Hindu festivals.
The Daunne section of the Butwal-Narayanghat road is also full of potholes, causing traffic jams. “It now takes around three hours to cross the 32-km Kawasoti-Narayanghat section,” said a truck driver.
The people’s representatives also expressed their dissatisfaction about the negligence of the contractor in repairing the road. “We repeatedly urged the Chinese contractor to plug the potholes and control dust. But the problem remains unaddressed,” said Chhatra Paudel, the mayor of Gaindakot Municipality.
The Post tried to contact Yuan Zhenkun, contract manager of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, to ask about the delay in road widening and maintenance works but he was not available for comment.