Simikot road construction moving at snail’s paceIt has been years since the government announced that Simikot, the district headquarters of Humla, would be connected by a motorable road, but it does not look like happening anytime soon.
It has been years since the government announced that Simikot, the district headquarters of Humla, would be connected by a motorable road, but it does not look like happening anytime soon.
Contractors have not been working very enthusiastically to build the road due to lack of adequate funding by the government. Moreover, geographical remoteness has made the work of connecting the district headquarters with the highway network very difficult.
The track of the 38-km-long Hilsa-Muchu section of the planned road is yet to be opened, chief of the Hilsa-Simikot Road Project Bijaya Kumar Thapa said. The total length of the Hilsa-Simikot road is 95 km.
Delays in building a bridge over the Karnali River have prevented motor vehicles from using the road sections that have been completed. The bridge should have been completed by mid-April, but they are still working on it.
After the bridge is completed, motor vehicles will be able to travel from Hilsa, a village near the border with China, to Khagalgaun. It takes nearly a day’s walk to reach Simikot from Khagalgaun.
Muchu Sitar Lama, a local, said that even after the bridge is built, motor vehicles will not be able to operate on the road because it is not yet suitable for vehicular traffic. Locals say that the road is very narrow at many places which will make it difficult to operate vehicles.
According to Thapa, vehicles are currently operating on a 38-km section of the road leading southward from Hilsa. Locals are delighted at the signing of a pact to construct a Friendship Bridge between Nepal and China during the recent visit of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to China.
Hilsa is one of the six border points that Nepal and China had agreed to open for international trade when the then Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jibao visited Kathmandu in 2012.
Officials said that this border point could be first to be opened after Rasuwagadhi as the construction of infrastructure on either side has reached an advanced stage.
Even though the border point has not been opened formally, tourists have been using it to travel to Kailash Manasarovar. Indian tourists, in particular, cross into China here as it offers the shortest route to Kailash.
The Chinese market centre of Taklakot (Burang) lies about 30 km across the border. People of Humla often travel to the Chinese market to do their shopping. Once the road is completed, locals expect to benefit from the opening of the Hilsa border point.
Opening the border and building a bridge is important for bilateral trade, said lawmaker Jiban Bahadur Shahi. “Although China had showed interest in constructing a double-lane blacktopped road three years ago, the government had done nothing about it,” blamed Shahi.