Road widening work along Lamahi-Tulsipur moving at snail’s paceThe road has become a death-trap of late, one transportation entrepreneur said.
The road widening work of Lamahi-Ghorahi-Tulsipur section has been delayed due to sheer negligence of the contractor, leaving the local people in hardships, project officials said.
Only about 10 percent work of the ongoing four-lane road expansion drive has been completed so far though the project contract was extended four times. “The work progress is not satisfactory,” said Arjun Kumar Bam, chief of the Lamahi office of the Lamahi-Ghorahi-Tulsipur four lane road project. “The road construction work is going on at a snail’s pace. We have doubts about the completion of the road project in this situation.”
The road project commenced around four years ago with the financial support of the Nepal government and loan assistance of the Export-Import Bank of India. Indian construction company Fact Engineering and Design Organisation was awarded the contract at 12.1 million US dollars.
The project agreement was signed on February 7, 2019. As per the agreement, the road project should be completed by May 11, 2020. The third extension of the project deadline ended on May 12, 2022. According to the road project, the process is on to extend the project deadline for the fourth time.
“We even thought about terminating the project agreement but again decided to extend the contract as the cancellation of the contract agreement would bring further procedural difficulties,” Bam said. “The contractor wasted the first 30 months. There are no problems and obstruction for the construction work. The road project has been delayed due to the negligence of the contractor.”
The Indian construction company has handed over responsibilities of the road construction to Nepali companies. Nepali construction companies have also been changed time and again. Shrestha Construction is currently carrying out the construction work from March 10, 2022.
Officials at the construction company admit the work delay. “We are unable to carry out work at a good pace,” said Shekhar Sharma, the manager of the Shrestha Construction. “Around 50 workers are now in the field. We could not mobilise workers during the rainy season. The work will gather momentum only after Tihar [a major Hindu festival which falls in October fourth week this year].”
The road widening work of the 28km long road from the Babaikhola of Ghorahi to Tulsipur is underway. The road stretch has been accident prone as the work was left incomplete for a long time. The road has been narrowed as road expansion work is underway on both sides of the road.
According to the District Police Office in Dang, a total of 65 road accidents occurred along Lamahi-Ghorahi-Tulsipur road section since the road widening work commenced in 2019, killing 22 people and injuring 78.
“With the road narrowed, we don’t know when the vehicle gets overturned,” said Ghanshyam Basnet, a Dang-based transportation entrepreneur. “Chances of the vehicles hitting electricity poles are also high as the utility poles are yet to be removed from the road. The Lamahi-Ghorahi-Tulsipur road has been a death trap lately.”