Dashain travellers facing hardships, delays due to bad roadsBuses are compelled to wait for several hours to cross bottlenecks caused by poor road conditions, transport operators say.
The Dashain travel rush has begun across the country, and people living and working in various parts of the country have started leaving for their hometowns. But with various road sections of the major highways damaged by an extended monsoon this year, travellers are facing hardships.
According to the Departments of Roads, out of the 226 severely damaged roads sections linking different parts of the country, 133 have been reduced to one lane and two road sections are still closed due to landslides caused by the heavy monsoon rains.
The department's data show at present only 91 different roads are in full operation without any obstructions.
With the traffic restricted to one lane in many road sections, Dashain travellers are compelled to wait for several hours to cross the bottlenecks.
“This time we were stuck in traffic jams for over nine hours in different sections. The road was treacherous because of landslides,” said Sabita Ghimire, 29, who reached her hometown in Musikot Municipality-4 in Gulmi on Tuesday from Kathmandu.
She had left Kathmandu on Monday morning.
“We left the Valley three days before Ghatasthapana to avoid overcrowded buses, but still we suffered a lot due to the numerous traffic jams and poor road conditions. It’s really difficult to travel with kids,” said Ghimire.
Not only the travellers, but transport operators also have their share of complaints about the poor road conditions.
“Buses that had left for Nepalgunj from Kathmandu on Monday have not reached until Tuesday because of the damaged road at Daunne of Nawalparasi,” said Saroj Sitaula, general secretary of the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs.
According to the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, there has not been any significant change in the number of people entering and exiting the Valley for this year's Dashain. The traffic police data show that in the past one week — between September 27 and Tuesday—a total of 302,632 people have left the Kathmandu Valley, while 300,110 people entered from different entry points.
“There is the risk of landslides in many road sections. It is still raining and bus operators are unwilling to operate their vehicles because there are various bottlenecks causing long traffic jams and delaying travel by several hours,” said Sitaula.
Bhimarjun Adhikari, deputy director general at the Department of Roads, said his office is working to repair and reopen the damaged roads.
“We are trying our best to clear the landslide debris and fill the potholes on the major roads. This year's rains have caused huge damage to the roads across the country and the continuous rainfall has affected the repair work,” said Adhikari.
The roads department has estimated damage caused to the road infrastructure by this year's monsoon at around Rs 3 billion.
Adhikari said his office has deployed all 33 road divisions across the country to repair the roads. “Normally, the monsoon ends by September, but weather officials have said this year it will linger till mid-October. This will hamper our work,” said Adhikari.
The department's report shows transportation remains completely halted at Bagarechhap of the Besishahar-Chame road section as the Marshyangdi river has completely swept away a road stretch. Meanwhile, the roads remain obstructed at Sano Markhu Khola along the Thori-Bhandara road and at Syaphrubesi in Rasuwa district.
“If it rains continuously, it would be hard for us to mend the roads,” said Adhikaril.
Many sections of the Siddhartha Highway including at Kalimati, Sisuwa and Peepal Danda have been reduced to one lane. Likewise, the road sections at Naubise, Jogimara, Ampa, Dumre along the Prithvi Highway and various sections of the Mugling-Narayanghat road have bottlenecks caused by landslides. On the Araniko Highway, roads at Sakhuwa and Dam Site have been reduced to one lane. Likewise, there are numerous treacherous sections along the Panchkhal-Melamchi road.
“We do not keep tabs on the road conditions outside the Valley, but we have heard travellers complaining about having to spend a long time in traffic jams,” said Superintendent of Police Sanjib Sharma Das, also spokesperson at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.