In Myagdi, rural roads turn into “death zones” for localsA total of 100 people have been killed in dozens of accidents in the district since 2008, according to data provided by District Police Office.
Over the past three days, Malika Rural Municipality, in western Myagdi, witnessed two road accidents in which six people lost their lives, and dozens sustained injuries.
Like elsewhere in the country, road construction in Myagdi translates to development—particularly for members of consumer committees and dozer operators. In many cases, the roads are constructed without the help of engineers; it is the dozer operators and members of consumer committees who do all the work, from planning to digging up the roads. The result is roads without proper grade and steep turns.
On Friday, a Bolero jeep loaded with passengers more than its capacity couldn’t climb up one of such steep turns. The jeep fell down the cliff and killed two passengers on the spot.
Two days later, on Sunday, another vehicle, a micro-bus, fell prey to another such turn. The turn was steep and narrow, and the bus couldn’t get past it. The bus fell down the cliff, killing four people.
Police officials and locals agree that the accidents are primarily caused by faulty road constructions.
“In most accidents, it’s the condition of the road that is to blame rather than the negligence of drivers,” said Dhruba Sharma, a police inspector. “Another major cause is poorly conditioned vehicles. Local representatives, technicians and consumers are only concerned with opening a track. No thought seems to go for road conditions and passengers’ security.”
Hari Krishna Shrestha, the secretary of the Nepal Communist Party Myagdi, blamed the consumer committees for constructing roads without proper studies.
“The roads have turned into death zones,” he said. “The consumer committees operate in an opaque manner. It seems the locals need to pressurise the consumer committees and construction contractors to work transparently.”
All six local units in the district have prioritised road construction in the fiscal budgets. Malika Rural Municipality, where the two recent accidents took place, has allocated Rs50 million for road enhancement. The area has seen frequent accidents since 2008 when the roads were constructed to connect villages to the headquarters. According to data provided by the District Police Office, a total of 100 people have died in several accidents in the period. This year, eight people were killed in three accidents in the past four months. Forty people have been injured, seven critically.
Gopal Poudel, a local of Malika Ward Number. 7, said that in many cases, locals are incited by politicians and members of consumer committees to dig up the road near their home and connect their homes to the headquarters. “A massive amount of budget has gone into road construction,” Poudel said. “But hardly any of the roads are constructed in accordance with the safety criteria designated by the Department of Roads.”