Section of Prithvi Highway in sorry stateCommuters and local residents are severely impacted as the authorities don’t bother to repair the dilapidated road.
The Tanahun section of Prithvi Highway—which links two of the country’s major cities, Pokhara and Kathmandu—is in a sorry state. Commuters and local residents are greatly affected as the authorities are unconcerned about the repair of the dilapidated road.
If the entire 72-km road that falls in Tanahun district is in a bad condition, the state of Gachhepani-Kotre stretch is worse.
“The 3.5 km long Gachhepani-Kotre section is full of potholes,” said Srijana Khanal of Kotre in Shuklagandaki Municipality-2. “The condition of the road, where hundreds of vehicles ply on a daily basis, has been deteriorating for the past two years but the concerned authorities are indifferent towards repairing the road.”
Khanal added the road section turns dusty in the dry season and becomes muddy when it rains.
“The local people are hardest hit by the dust, which has caused various respiratory diseases. Goods kept in my shop display are always covered in dust,” said Khanal, who runs a clothing store by the roadside. “I have a hard time selling my products because they look old and used.”
The locals say they have urged the authorities several times to repair the road but none of them has paid heed to their request.
“We frequently visit the ward office, municipality office and the division road office in Damauli, asking them to repair the road. But our concerns have yet to be addressed,” said Hari Rimal of Haledi.
The residents even requested a Chinese construction company, which is currently working to widen the Muglin-Pokhara road, but to no avail, Rimal said.
Enraged at the noncompliance of the authorities concerned to repair the road, the local people of Gachhepani, Haledi and Kotre disrupted vehicular movement along the road stretch for a week from April 22. The agitated locals formed a ‘road management pressure group’ under the coordination of Thakur Khanal. The group withdrew its protest programme a week ago after they reached an agreement with the district administration on the issue.
The protesters submitted a memorandum to Chief District Officer Bishwo Prakash Aryal last week, demanding immediate repair of the road section. Aryal then instructed the Muglin-Pokhara Road Project (Western section) to control dust along the Gachhepani-Kotre road stretch, sprinkle water on the road regularly and fill the potholes.
“We will organise a fierce protest if our problem is not addressed immediately,” said Thakur Khanal.
The Muglin-Pokhara road is one of the busiest road sections in the country. According to the District Traffic Police Office in Tanahun, around 5,000 four-wheelers and around 8,000 two-wheelers run along the road daily.
However, the road has become accident-prone in recent years due to a lack of regular repair and maintenance work.
“Driving along the road is very difficult as it is riddled with potholes,” said Tul Bahadur Paudel, who has been driving a microbus along the Muglin-Pokhara section for the past four years. “Vehicles also suffer damages due to the poor condition of the road.”
Expansion work along the Aanbukhaireni-Pokhara section of the Muglin-Pokhara road is underway after dividing it into two sections—Aanbukhaireni-Jamune (41km) in the eastern section and Jamune-Pokhara (39km) in the western section.
The contract for the eastern section has been granted to Chinese Communication Construction Company for Rs 6.21 billion and the western section to the Chinese company Yanhui Kaiyun Highway and Bridge Construction for Rs 7.4 billion.
The delay in the expansion of Gachhipani-Kotre road has also left its repair work in limbo.
“The Gachhipani-Kotre road was already in a sorry state when we started the expansion work around six months ago. We have prioritised widening the road to four lanes rather than repairing it,” said Amit Shrestha, chief at the Jamune-Pokhara section of Muglin-Pokhara Road Project.