Kalanki-Nagdhunga road expansion nears completionCost to drop 15 percent due to reduced works for contractors.
Expansion and improvement work of the Kalanki-Nagdhunga road is close to completion after a prolonged delay caused by local protests and alleged under-performance of the contractor, officials and the contractor said.
Delay in completion of improving the road, which is the gateway for most people travelling in and out of Kathmandu Valley, had troubled commuters and locals residing along the stretch with dust and mud for four years.
The Department of Roads had awarded the contract of Tripureshwor-Nagdhunga Road in four different packages in July 2015, with the completion deadline ranging from October 2017 to January 2018 based on packages. But the deadline was extended by more than one year after slow progress in the work.
Joint ventures involving Shailung Construction, whose owner Sharada Prasad Adhikari is the landlord of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, are the contractors for three packages of sections from Kalanki to Nagdhunga, whose length is around nine kilometres.
“Now, rigid pavement [concreting] is being laid on the 220 metre road section in the Satungal area,” said Arjun Aryal, chief of the Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project. “Likewise, the work of blacktopping the widened part of the 250 metre stretch at Thankot, opposite the Police Post, also remains.”
At some locations, work related to improving parts of the road has been damaged by rain and works related to footpath also remain incomplete in some parts of the Kalanki-Nagdhunga Road, according to Aryal.
Officials said that the road would be completed within the current fiscal year provided that the rains don’t disturb the works. “There is not much work left to be completed. I am confident that work will be over by the end of the current fiscal year,” said Road Department Director General Keshav Kumar Sharma.
The Shailung had targeted to complete the entire work by mid-May. But Ramesh Subedi, director of Shailung Construction, told the Post that occasional rainfall since winter had disturbed work, delaying the completion.
“Provided that the weather is favourable, work of rigid pavement in Satungal and blacktopping at Thankot area will complete in a few days,” he said. “We plan to complete the work of rigid pavement in the Satungal area on June 25, 26 and 27.”
Ever since the contractor set out to expand the road in September 2015, people residing at different locations along the stretch obstructed expansion as the work would affect their land and houses. On the other hand, officials blamed the contractors for not working on the locations where there was no dispute.
Besides obstructing the works, the locals filed a case at the Supreme Court, which issued an interim order in August 2016, stalling works in the disputed area completely.
After the top court gave a verdict in favour of the petitioner in September 2017, asking the government to compensate locals for the acquired land, the government abandoned the expansion drive and decided to work on the space available. Following the government’s decision, the contractors could work on the Kalanki-Nagdhunga project.
But there is still an issue with the locals in Satungal area, according to Aryal. “They are not letting the contractor lay a drainage of 30-35 metres on the existing culvert as they fear inundation on the lower part of the road,” he said.
As the works were done in the narrowed area, the cost of expansion work will go down, according to the department. “We expect the cost to drop by around 15 percent but it is not definitive,” said Sharma. The contracts for the three packages involving Shailung were worth Rs1.24 billion in total.