Unfinished road construction affects Diktel residentsThe dilapidated road section has led to drainage problems in the main bazaar area and with monsoon almost here, the area is in danger of inundation.
The sorry state of the road in Diktel bazaar, Khotang has affected the daily lives of the local residents.
Students of Saraswati Higher Secondary School, Saraswati Basic School, Diktel English Boarding School and Mount Everest Boarding School in the district headquarters have been facing a tough time making their way to and from their schools every day.
Shivahari Dhakal, a teacher at Saraswati Higher Secondary school, said that children are at high risk of falling into ditches. “The road is full of potholes and has become accident-prone. It is very risky for children to use the road,” he said.
The poor condition of the road has affected patients who are in need of ambulance services or immediate medical care.
“It’s almost impossible to take patients to the hospital via this road as it is riddled with potholes and littered with unattended construction materials. The authorities should keep in mind that their negligence has put a lot of people at risk,” Jay Acharya, another local, told the Post.
Dipnarayan Rijal, the outgoing mayor of Diktel Rupakot Majhuwagadi Municipality, had vowed to complete the road construction work in Diktel Bazaar in the last fiscal year. But his promise has yet to come true.
The road construction work was contracted to Surya Construction Bikash Nirman Sewa JV. The agreement was signed on June 23 2021 with the deadline set for November 26, 2021. The four-month period was then extended due to the coronavirus pandemic and the new deadline was set for mid-April, 2022. When the project was still not completed by the latest deadline, the outgoing mayor recommended a three-month extension.
Even after two deadline extensions, the construction work is nowhere near completion.
Tirtha Raj Bhattarai, chief of Diktel Rupakot-Majhuwagadhi Municipality, said he had sent a letter to the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction and the contractor company, warning that he would take action if the work is not completed on time.
Although the cost of the road project was estimated at Rs 30.93 million, the tender was contracted to the company at a 40 percent lower price, according to Tulsiram Kharbuja, project chief of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, Okhaldhunga.
According to Kharbuja, so far Rs 9.4 million has been paid to the contractor but only 45 percent of the work has been completed so far with the deadline falling just a month away.
Kharbuja said that the process to terminate the contract with the construction company started two months ago.
“We are in the process of terminating the contract with the construction company soon,” he said.
According to the officials at the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, Okhaldhunga, the construction company has been paying compensation since mid-April for delays in project work. Around Rs1.3 million has been deducted from the contract and paid as compensation.
Chief District Officer Phanindra Dahal says the construction company has handed over the project work to the local contractors and this has caused some delay.
“The administration has repeatedly pointed out the issue of neglected road construction to the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction,” said Dahal.
“Along with the construction company, the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction is also responsible and the administration is planning to take action against both of them,” he said.
The dilapidated road section has led to drainage problems in the main bazaar area and with monsoons almost here, the bazaar area is in danger of inundation, local residents say.
“It has already started raining but there is no outlet for the rainwater to drain,” said Nawaraj Joshi, a local businessman in Diktel bazaar. “This has affected public and vehicular movement in the bazaar area.”
Meanwhile, Rajan Kiju, one of the contractors involved in the road construction, claims that the work will be completed by next month.
But local residents are sceptical.
“They couldn’t complete the road construction in so many months. It’s hard to believe they will complete the project in the next month,” said Gunaraj Sanju, a businessman in Diktel bazaar.