Amid concerns about delays, ADB’s Nepal chief visits road project sitesSays further delays are unacceptable, and everyone involved must work together.
Amid concerns about delays, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director for Nepal Arnaud Cauchois visited the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Road Improvement Project sites in Narayanghat and Butwal and took stock of the construction work.
Cauchois’ two-day visit, from February 14, included meetings with ministers of economic affairs and cooperatives and physical infrastructure development of the Lumbini province, mayor of Butwal, senior government officials, and local authorities, according to the statement issued by the multilateral funding agency.
“The road construction and maintenance work has picked up pace in the recent months, but it needs to be expedited further,” said Cauchois. “I had constructive meetings with the project team, consultants, and contractors, and I am hopeful whatever issues remain in terms of managing resources and construction materials will be resolved soon.”
Cauchois also emphasised on the urgency to complete construction of bridges before the onset of the monsoon in places where the original bridges were damaged or destroyed by the 2021 floods. He also discussed improving road maintenance, better traffic management, and deploying better road diversions to avoid traffic congestion as the roads are being constructed and upgraded.
“This stretch of the road, once upgraded, is expected to bring economic benefits by providing better access to local and regional markets and making movements of goods and people easier,” said Cauchois. “Further delays are unacceptable, and everyone involved must work together to complete this strategic road network on an agreed schedule.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the work to some extent. And delays in felling trees and shifting the electric poles also hindered the work progress,” said Sushil Babu Dhakal, project director of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Road Improvement Project.
“But now these issues have been almost resolved, and we have asked the contractors to accelerate construction work and deploy all their resources to make up for the time lost to Covid pandemic.”
The project, financed by the Asian Development Bank, is upgrading 154 kilometres of Nepal’s strategic road network [113 km of the East–West Highway] and improving the country’s domestic and regional transport connectivity.