Disabled people hit by road expansion, Melamchi worksPrabin Shrestha was riding his wheelchair from his office at Chandol to Baluwatar on a recent evening when he was suddenly thrown off balance.
Prabin Shrestha was riding his wheelchair from his office at Chandol to Baluwatar on a recent evening when he was suddenly thrown off balance. He fell flat on the ground. He scraped his head and broke his wheelchair, a gift from his German friend, and his phone in the incident.
Shrestha, a filmmaker by profession, was with his assistant, who helped him up and took him home.
It was not the first time that Shrestha had fallen while navigating the streets of Kathmandu on his wheelchair. In two years, he said, he had to change three wheelchairs.
Shrestha is among hundreds of disabled people to have been affected by the condition of roads in Kathmandu. The ongoing road expansion and water pipeline installation works have made their problem worse.
According to the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN), Kathmandu alone have over 15,000 differently-abled people, of which around 8,000 are wheelchair users, around 3,500 are visually impaired, and remaining are people with intellectual disability.
“These days I hardly go out on my own because the present road condition in the Valley is like a death trap,” said Shrestha.
Rajindra Dulal Chhetri, chairperson of Blind Help Center Nepal, said he too was facing trouble walking in the Valley road. “There are few guiding block for people like us on major road sections. And with the ongoing Melamchi pipeline works, getting about the city for a blind person is extremely difficult,” said Chhetri.
The sidewalks in different parts of Kathmandu are occupied by dirt mounds and construction materials. Even people without disabilities are having difficulty walking.
Bharat BC, of Jawalakhel, said his mobility scooter started having problems ever since the road expansion works began in the Valley.
“With the roads all bumpy and muddy, I’ve to repair my wheelchair every two weeks or so. It’s costing me dear,” he said. NFDN President Sudarshan Subedi said the government does not seem to be concerned by the problem faced by the disabled.
“Every day we get complaints from our friends, many of them who have broken their arms and legs. This is all because the authorities expanding the Valley’s road and digging trenches to install pipeline are doing their works in a highly disorganised manner,” he said.