Gaighat-Diktel road construction incomplete for more than two decadesThe road project that started some 26 years ago is still incomplete due to the negligence of construction companies, locals say.
The construction of the Gaighat-Diktel road started around 26 years ago with an objective to link Khotang with Tarai. But the road project is yet to be completed. Locals blame the delay on the negligence of contractors and the government’s lackadaisical response to monitor them.
To upgrade and blacktop the 76-km long road stretch, the Gaighat-Diktel road project had awarded contracts to four construction companies in 2016. The deadline for the project’s completion was mid-July this year. But only three kilometres of the entire stretch have been blacktopped so far.
“Four different construction companies were awarded the contracts by dividing the road into different sections. Though there was some progress in administrative works, the physical progress of the construction work has been slow,” said Gopal Prasad Khakurel, chief at the Gaighat office of the road project. According to him, only three kilometres of the road stretch along the Saune-Phoksingtar section have been blacktopped in the past four years
“The process to take legal action against the contractors for their negligence in the project’s completion has already begun. We haven’t been able to take it further because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a preliminary action, the mobilisation amount issued to the construction companies will be seized soon,” said Khakurel.
Mainachuli/Goldengate JV was awarded the contract to blacktop the Saune-Phoksingtar section while Mainachuli/Siddhi Shahi JV was given the contract to widen and construct other structures on the same road section.
Similarly, Mainachuli/Khampacho/Jayanarayan Pwan JV and Siddhi Shahi/Mainachuli JV received the contracts of upgrading the Phoksingtar-Khamtel Simpani and Khamtel Simpani-Mahure road sections respectively.
“There is around 59 percent work progress in the Phoksingtar-Khamtel-Simpani stretch and 35 percent in the Khamtel-Simpani-Mahure stretch. But the construction work has been left incomplete for a long time,” said Khakurel.
The then Prime Minister Manmohan Adhikari had initiated the construction of the Gaighat-Diktel road at Bokse of Gaighat in 1994. The road connects Gaighat of Udayapur district to Diktel, the district headquarters of Khotang.
Though the track was opened six years ago, the road section is in dire straits. The dirt road in the hilly area is not motorable during the rainy season. Transportation from Gaighat to Diktel is not possible even during winter, as a bridge is yet to be constructed across the Sunkoshi river in Phoksingtar. Gauri Parbati construction company was supposed to complete the bridge two years ago but it is still left incomplete.
“Looks like we will always have to travel on bad roads,” said Kaluman Majhi, 75, of Khotehang Rural Municipality Ward No. 9 in Khotang. “It’s been so many years and still there is no progress on this road section.”
The locals believe that both the construction companies and the concerned authorities are to blame for the delayed road upgradation work.
“The road project has been left incomplete due to the sheer negligence of the contractors. They did not complete their work on time and the authorities have also failed to take action against the contractors for unnecessary delays,” said Pandab Rai of Rautamai Ward No. 5 in Udayapur.
According to the people’s representatives, development works in the district, mainly in the southern part of Khotang, have been greatly affected due to the poor condition of the Gaighat-Diktel road section.
“The road project has been left incomplete for a long time. The locals have to suffer because of the incompetence of the contractors and the concerned authorities,” said Gajendra Khadka, the chairman of Rautamai Rural Municipality.