Electricity poles stand in the middle of the road in SarlahiThe notorious Pappu Construction is the contractor for the project, and has used substandard materials for the construction as well, say locals.
Om Prakash Thakur
The 30-km Hariban-Kaudena road, connecting the Postal Highway to the East-West Highway in Sarlahi, is being blacktopped without removing the electricity poles.
Pappu Construction, which is notorious for carrying out substandard construction work and leaving most of its projects incomplete, is the contractor for the project.
The road, which was originally 18 to 20 feet wide, was later widened to 30 feet, but it did not see much vehicular movement because it wasn’t blacktopped. However, recently, after the road started being asphalted, a problem arose: the risk for accidents increased, because some of the road’s electricity poles were not removed before it was widened, which means they remain almost in the middle of the road.
Jogendra Thakur, a local man of Kabilashi, said that electricity poles were installed in the area a long time ago. “After the expansion of the road, some of the electricity poles were standing in the middle of the road. The position of these poles poses a grave danger to vehicles,” said Thakur. “Every day the road witnesses minor accidents because of these poles.”
The locals are demanding the electricity poles be removed and shifted to a safer location but their demands have fallen on deaf ears.
According to the Infrastructure Development Contact Unit Office in the district, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) showed no urgency to shift the electricity poles. Arun Kumar Mahato, a site engineer at the office, said that the NEA did not help the office clear the poles before blacktopping work began. He said, “We requested the Lalbandi branch of NEA to remove the poles from the road time and again but there was no help forthcoming. That’s why the contractor has been blacktopping the road without clearing the poles.”
A budget has been separated to clear the road of electricity poles but it remains untouched, said Mahato. The Lalbandi branch of NEA has asked the Infrastructure Development Contact Unit Office to transfer the budget to its account for them to be able to remove the electricity poles. “But we cannot transfer the budget provided by the World Bank into NEA’s account. It’s against the contract we have with the World Bank,” said Mahato.
The road is being blacktopped with the financial assistance of the World Bank.
The NEA office in Lalbandi informed that for any clearance work for road construction an application should be registered in the office. “We should first receive the application and then the money should be deposited on NEA’s bank account as estimated,” said Sudhir Yadav, chief at Lalbandi branch of NEA. “We cannot work until the concerned authority fulfils the due process.”
The contractor company claimed that they have already completed 80 percent of construction work on the Hariban-Kaudena. However, locals claim that the contractor has used substandard materials as some sections of the blacktopped road has developed cracks and potholes.
Rameshwor Sah, a local of Kabilashi, said that the Hariban-Kaudena road, the shortest route connecting the Postal Highway to the East-West Highway, is being constructed without much deliberation on the quality. “The road is currently being blacktopped but it’s already developed cracks. The section of the road passing through my locality was blacktopped just three months ago but it’s already full of potholes,” he said.
Pappu Construction was awarded the contract of the road at a cost of Rs 179.2 million on May 4, 2016. The agreement says had set the deadline for the contractor company to complete the construction work by May 20, 2018. Since then, the deadline for the road project has been extended time and again. Subodh Raya, a local man of Haripur, said that the contractor company has been working on the road stretch just for the sake of completing the work. He said, “The tar’s come off in many places and the contractor company has not initiated any repairs. This construction work here has only created more problems for the locals. We have become wary of vehicles running on this road lest they meet with accidents,” said Raya.