Surkhet-Jumla road section of Karnali Highway in dilapidated conditionThe road section was last paved in May 2012, and in just seven years, it is riddled with potholes and cracks.
The 232-km-long Surkhet-Jumla road of Karnali Highway is in poor conditions, even though it’s been in operation only for the past 13 years.
The road section was last asphalted on May 2012, and in just seven years, it has visible cracks and potholes. The blacktopping had, in fact, started to peel off one year into repair, say locals.
A majority of the highway is in a similar state of disrepair, giving rise to accident risks. The data of the District Traffic Police showed that 134 people have been killed and 287 people sustained injuries in 196 accidents that occurred along the Surkhet-Jumla road.
Most of the passengers of Jumla complain that travelling on the Surkhet-Jumla road is risky business. Meen Bahadur Thapa, a local man, said, “The risk of meeting with accidents is high here. The road has sharp turns and narrow bends, making it difficult to see vehicles. Moreover, the potholes and cracks make it difficult for drivers to manoeuvre the vehicles.” The fact that the Surkhet-Jumla road is a single lane road means the risk is higher.
The Surkhet-Jumla road has been in operation since the Nepal Army opened the road on April 12, 2007. Umakanta Neupane, a resident of Hima Rural Municipality, said that passengers are facing hardships while travelling on the road. He said, “The residents of entire Karnali region were excited after the road link to Jumla was built. But the authorities have done such a shoddy job that we fear travelling on that road.”
Rajjabali Manihar, chairman at Jumla Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the poor condition of the roads is hindering development work in the area. He said, “We have to pay Rs 70 (per kg) while transporting goods through aircraft. But the roads are so bad that we don’t have any other option. This is affecting the local economy adversely.”
Given the condition of the road, the passengers travelling through that section have to suffer massive traffic jams, said Manihar. “The asphalted road has developed potholes and cracks. If one vehicle gets stuck here, the traffic is bound to come to a screeching halt.”
The locals and commuters who use the road section suffer all year round because the roads become unbearably dusty during the dry season and extremely muddy during the rainy season.
Dipesh Adhikari, a transport entrepreneur, said that they face trouble while driving along the road. He said, “One can reach Jumla from Surkhet in seven hours if the road is in good condition. But now, it takes more than 12 hours some time.”
The government had asphalted only 4.5 metres (width of the road) with the financial assistance of the World Bank.