Residents of Golanjor protest poor upgradation work along BP HighwayThe protesters say they would let construction work resume after the road project changed the work estimate and design of the road.
The local residents of Golanjor Rural Municipality in Sindhuli district are protesting against the road upgradation work along the BP Highway, stating that the work estimate and design of the road project are faulty.
The agitating villagers have halted the asphalt overlay work carried out by Sindhuli Road Project in Khaniyakharka section since Friday. They warned that they would not let the project continue its work until it changed its design.
The road project has been carrying out the asphalt overlay work along a stretch of 36 kilometres from Sindhulimadhi, the district headquarters of Sindhuli, to Khurkot by awarding contracts to three construction companies. As per the estimate, the contractors have been laying two-inch thick asphalt overlay on only some parts of the road, creating an uneven road surface.
“The contractors have laid asphalt on a width of only five metres but the road is more than five metres wide. The road surface is not leveled, making the highway very prone to accidents,” said Hari Gajurel of Kaniyakharka. He said that the local residents were compelled to protest, as the asphalt overlay covered only about half the width of the road.
The protesters asserted that they would let the construction work begin only after the road project corrected the design and blacktopped the entire road.
“The BP Highway sees a lot of traffic and has a number of bends and turns. It would be risky if we leave the road surface uneven,” said Ramhari Thapa, another local resident. He demanded that the technicians involved in preparing and implementing the road’s design should be punished.
Meanwhile, the upgradation work along the same road from Sindhulimadhi to Khurkot is different. The road project has already completed the asphalt overlay work along the 11km-long Pipalbhanjyang-Khaniyakharka road stretch.
Ramesh Acharya, a technician at the road project, said that the design has mentioned asphalting only five metres of the road but the asphalt overlay should be laid on a width of at least six metres.
“Discussions on the issue are underway following demands from the local residents,” said Acharya.
The asphalt overlay work is being conducted by dividing the Sindhulimadhi-Khurkot section into four different phases. The work has been completed in one phase while it is still ongoing in the other three phases. As per the contract, the construction companies should bury potholes and level and asphalt the road.
The road project officials admit that the estimate and design of the road are faulty.
“The tender invitation with the estimate of putting asphalt on five metres of the road was wrong. The whole width of the road should be blacktopped,” said Mohan Kayastha, an engineer at the road project. According to him, a group of technicians on Saturday made a field inspection and informed the centre about the locals’ demands.
BP Highway is the shortest route connecting Tarai districts in the eastern Nepal with the Capital. The construction work on the 160 km highway was completed in 2015 with financial assistance from the Japanese government. Although the Highway was set to be constructed in 1958 during the tenure of the then Prime Minister BP Koirala, the project did not move forward following the political change in 1960. The project that had remained in limbo for 37 years had been rejuvenated with financial assistance from the Japanese government in 1996.
BP Highway is one one of the country's busiest highways. According to Pashupati Kunwar, chief at the District Traffic Police Office in Sindhuli, around 1,500 vehicles travel through the highway on a daily basis.
“The flow of traffic was heavier before March, when the government enforced a nationwide lockdown amid Covid-19 fear,” he said.
Kunwar also raised questions about the asphalt overlay work on only five metres width of the road.
“The road will be very prone to accidents if the surface is uneven,” he said, urging the authorities concerned to carry out the asphalt overlay work properly.