Syaubari–Rasuwagadhi road upgrade work halted by pandemic yet to resumeAuthorities’ indifference to repair such a strategically important road is lamentable, locals say.
Nepal’s only link road to China currently in operation—which connects Syaubari to Rasuwagadhi by way of Dhunche and Syaphru—is in a sorry state, ridden with potholes and prone to landslides.
Despite the fact the road stretch is important to the country in many ways, that authorities are indifferent to repair it, which is lamentable, complain locals and drivers.
“The road is narrow, full of big potholes, and prone to landslides especially during the rainy season,” says Ram Sharan Acharya, driver of a container plying the road. “Travelling along the road is quite risky.”
On Wednesday, a boulder set off by a landslide uphill damaged a jeep in the Kulung stream area.
The Betrawati-Syaphru stretch of Pasang Lhamu Highway was blacktopped 10 years ago. For a lack of repair, this road is now a shell of its former self, beset by ubiquitous potholes.
The 134-km-long Pasang Lhamu Highway, which connects Kathmandu to Syaphru, attained a newfound significance after the 2015 earthquakes damaged the Araniko Highway. This highway is now the only road link of Kathmandu to Rasuwagadhi, connecting Nepal with the Chinese border town of Kerung. The road is used to transport goods to and from China. It is then unbecoming of the authorities concerned to fail to keep this strategic road in good condition.
There have been some efforts to give the road a facelift. An upgrade drive of the Syaphru-Rasuwagadhi road section commenced in 2019 with Chinese aid. China’s Tibet Tinalu Company Limited was awarded the contract to upgrade the 16-km stretch to a two-lane and all-weather highway. The upgrade work, however, was soon halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has yet to resume.
The workers deployed by the contractor went home after Covid-19 pandemic and are yet to return for the work, according to Niraj Shakya, chief of Galchhi-Trishuli-Syaphrubesi-Rasuwagadhi road project. “Efforts are underway to resume work soon,” Shakya said.
The Chinese company had assured that it would complete the road upgradation work within 39 months and hand it over to the Nepal government. The total cost of the project is Rs4.5 billion. As per the bilateral assistance agreement signed in December 2016 between Nepal and China, a portion of the Rs15.7 billion (RMB 1 billion) fund would be used to repair and improve the Syabrubesi-Rasuwagadhi section of the highway.
Road upgradation work along the Galchhi–Rasuwagadhi stretch is underway. It is a national pride project that has been deemed as a strategic road network connecting the southern and northern neighbours. This 82-km highway is key to implementing the Transit Transport Agreement signed between Nepal and China in 2016.