Bajura cut off from national road network for two monthsFloods and landslides since mid-June have damaged the Sanfe-Martadi road section at several places.
Martadi, the district headquarters of Bajura, has been disconnected from the national road network for the past two months due to floods and landslides. Prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed in the district owing to the lengthy transport disruption.
Floods and landslides since mid-June have blocked the Sanfe-Martadi road section at several places. Around 17 kilometres of the road section has suffered severe damage from the disasters while two kilometres of the road have been swept away due to embankment erosion by the Budhiganga river.
“Massive landslides have erupted below and above the road from Balle to Dwari. The road has been totally swept away by landslides in the area,” said Padam Bahadur Baduwal, mayor of Badimalika Municipality.
Landslides have blocked around 30 km of the Barjagadh-Jadanga road section in more than a dozen places. A bridge at Taprisera, which had been swept away by last year’s flood, has yet to be constructed.
Sick people who need to be taken outside the district for treatment have been hit hardest by the road blockage.
“The only road connecting the district headquarters to the rest of the country has remained closed for a long time, affecting the lives of everyone in Bajura. The road blockage has led to price hikes and shortage of daily essential commodities,” said Chief District Officer Gopal Kumar Adhikari.
The residents of Kolti, a remote area in the eastern part of Bajura, are facing a shortage of essential commodities.
“We used to transport one kilogram of goods at Rs 9 from Dhangadhi to Kolti via road. Now we pay around Rs 25 to transport the same goods on mules. Prices of the available goods are also very high,” said Hasta Bahadur Malla, a local trader in Kolti. “The price of Mota rice, which stood at Rs 52 per kg before the road disruption, has gone up to Rs 62.”
The 58km road section from Achham’s Sanphe to Bajura’s Martadi is highly prone to landslides and floods during the monsoon season. Around 20 km of the road section lies in Achham while the remaining 38 km lies in Bajura.
According to Dipak Bikram Shah, the mayor of Budhiganga Municipality, it is not possible to construct the landslide-ravaged road from Balle to Dwari as per the old alignment. An alternative road should be constructed in the area, he added.
“Efforts are underway to clear the debris and resume transportation along the road. But the work has been hampered by continuous rains and running landslides. An alternative track should be constructed in the area since the Barjugad-Jadanga road is highly prone to landslides,” said Daman Bista, an engineer at the Division Road Office in Sanfebagar, Achham.
The Division Road Office in Sanfebagar is responsible for repairing the road and resuming transportation.
“Study is on to construct an alternative road in the Dhuralsain-Tipada area. The road office has also signed an agreement with Geo International Company to conduct a geological study of the area. The alternative road will be constructed on the basis of the report,” said Bista, adding that the company will submit its reports within a few months.
The landslides along the Barjugad-Jadanga section do not only block the road but also leave various roadside settlements at high risk. The land at Amkot village in Budhiganga Municipality-1 has developed cracks, as landslides have damaged the road just below the settlement.
“Three houses in the settlement have developed cracks while a total of 113 houses are at high risk. We don’t know when landslides will sweep away the entire settlement,” said Nandaram Padhya, a resident of Amkot. “We have nowhere to go. The government should either control the landslides or relocate the settlement to a safer place.”