Rural road incomplete for 14 years due to funds shortage and government neglectLocals of ward 4 of Badigad Rural Municipality in Baglung have been facing difficulties due to lack of the road.
The construction of the 60km road section in Jaljala of Badigad Rural Municipality ward 4 started in 2009. But after 14 years, just a 24km passage for the road has been opened. Once complete, the road stretch is expected to connect all the villages and settlements of ward 4, which is the largest in terms of the area in the rural municipality.
In the absence of road connectivity, locals of several villages in the ward have been facing difficulties to reach the health post and ward office for various services.
Fourteen years ago, the road project was initiated with a budget of Rs13 million. The responsibility for the construction of the road stretch was handed over to the then consumer committee. But the committee just managed to construct a 13 km passage for the road with the entire budget.
According to locals, they tried to expedite the project by working for free, but their efforts were frustrated by a lack of additional funds.
The then chairman of Badigad Rural Municipality Mehar Singh Paija had allocated some funds for the road but that proved insufficient.
The chairman of the rural municipality, Gandaki Thapa Adhikari, however, says, funds alone were not the problem as the terrain is equally difficult. “The rocky hills and mountains make the construction of the road very challenging,” said Adhikari.
According to locals, the bordering areas of ward 4 are connected to the road network, but the inner areas are not. It takes more than two hours of walking for the people living in the inner areas of the rural municipality to reach the ward 4 office and four to five hours to reach the central office of the rural municipality.
“I also walk for hours to reach the ward office. Those who seek education and health services are also forced to walk for hours because there is no alternative way,” said Jung Bahadur Balal, the ward chairman. “This road project is a dream project for the locals but despite several attempts, efforts and requests, completing the project is becoming increasingly difficult.”
Dal Bahadur Paija, chairman of the consumer committee, says a lack of sufficient budget to hire skilled manpower and construction equipment has delayed the project.
“Six villages and several settlements of the ward are not connected to the road network and this is the only road stretch which can connect them,” said Paija. “It is more challenging for the elderly and the sick to walk on such risky dirt roads. The local government has invested a total of Rs14.2 million in the project since 2017, the locals have donated Rs5 million, the Gandaki provincial government has invested Rs8.9 million in the project.”
Paija estimates it will take another three years and more funds to complete the project.
According to Tek Prasad Magar, a local teacher of Bhetikhor in ward 4, around six villages and several settlements of the ward stand to benefit from the road project.
“This project is left in limbo because it is not in the priority of both the Department of Roads and the provincial government,” Magar said. “Lack of budget creates problems in any project. In the rainy season elderly people and patients have to make an arduous and dangerous journey to the health centre.”
Magar added, “The locals are mostly farmers, and due to lack of transport service, they are unable to send their produce to markets in and outside the district.”