Two offices of Road Department award separate contracts for the same roadDepartment officials say such duplication may happen due to lack of clear demarcation of jurisdictions among the centre, province and local govt
Two offices under the Department of Roads—Postal Highway Directorate and Road Improvement and Development Project Directorate—have awarded separate contracts for the same road section, drawing the attention of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority.
The two offices awarded separate contractor for a 5.23km road section in Rupandehi due to lack of coordination, the department said.
In a notice on September 4, the department asked the offices under it to exercise proper coordination in order not to allow such a situation.
“The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority had asked us why two offices awarded separate contracts for the same road section,” said Keshav Kumar Sharma, director general at the department. “Now, we have settled the issue with a decision that only Postal Highway Directorate will build this road and notified that to the anti-graft body.”
According to Sharma, both offices awarded separate contracts for the same road because it shares parts of different roads being build under the two road offices.
Officials at the department also admitted that such duplications have happened time and again in Mid-Hill Highway when separate roads share the same road section in certain part. The prospect of duplication has risen due to lack of clear demarcation of jurisdictions among federal, provincial and local governments.
Even now, the department is implementing around 2,000 road and bridge projects which were supposed to be implemented through the provincial and local governments.
According to the department, it has been implementing 1,137 local bridges being built along the roads that are under the provincial and local governments. Likewise, as many as 442 roads under Road Infrastructure Development Programme and 404 roads under the Tarai Madhes Road Infrastructure Special Programme, whose budget is less than Rs10 million each, are also being implemented by the department.
The projects under Road Infrastructure Development Projects are mostly being implemented in the hills, while the roads under the Tarai Madhes Road Infrastructure Special Programme in the plains.
Though department officials say provinces and local governments should have been handling these projects, they are still under the department largely because most of them were chosen for “political purpose”. The centre has allocated less than Rs10 million in each road project, according to the department.
“As the centre has not given up even local roads whose budget is under Rs10million, there are possibilities of even provincial and local governments also putting in the money in the same road,” said Shivahari Sapkota, spokesperson for the department. “We are trying to avoid duplication by informing the provincial and local governments that the budget has been allocated for a certain section of the road project.”
According to Sapkota, there could be modality where the department can develop certain section of the road and provincial and local government develop an additional section of the same road. “But, there might be differences in standards although the strict standard is not applied in local roads as they are basically access roads,” he said.