Almost all Kathmandu Valley road expansion contracts likely to face termination in less than a yearRight of way is not clear in most of the projects as the final deadline for completing works approaches near.
Almost all road expansion projects in Kathmandu Valley may hit a roadblock if contractors whose deadlines are already over fail to complete works within June 4 next year.
The eighth amendment to the Public Procurement Regulation has introduced a new provision, saying that contractors whose deadline is already over must complete work by June 4 or face contract termination.
According to the Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project, a unit under the Department of Roads which is undertaking road expansion works in the Valley, the original deadline of most of the 28 contracts related to nine road widening projects in Valley is already over.
“As the right of way is not available for contractors to complete work in almost all road sections, their contracts will be terminated in June next year if no other alternative is explored to complete them,” said Arjun Aryal, chief of the Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project.
The right of way is the legal right given to a route to pass through the property of others.
As per the amended regulation, if the contractor fails to complete the work even within June next year, the government agency should confiscate performance bond and any other guarantee the contractors have deposited and recover the cost which will have to be borne by the government. Besides, the contractors will also face the risk of getting blacklisted.
Kathmandu’s road widening projects, which were already running slow, faced a major setback after the Supreme Court, in relation to the case of the Nagdhunga-Kalanki road section, ordered the government to duly compensate the locals whose houses were to be demolished and land plots acquired for expanding the roads.
The court order had a knock-on effect on other projects, as residents who were to be affected by the road widening drive started protesting, saying that they also had to be compensated accordingly.
The government, however, in July last year decided to expand the Nagdhunga-Kalanki road and the Chabahil-Sankhu stretch “in whatever space was available”, without acquiring land from the public. But it is yet to take any decision on other roads where expansion work has been affected.
Project officials said that they had been facing obstructions in almost all road projects for long as people have refused to give up their land for road widening.
Officials at the Department of Roads said four months ago they had proposed three options—terminate the contracts, continue work in whatever space is available while compensating locals where required or take forward the expansion work as per the earlier plan.
But the government is yet to take any decision on the options.
The Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project took another step last week.
The project said it would continue work in two road projects—Imadol-Godavari-Lamatar and Dholahiti-Chapagaun-Saraswatichandra—in whatever space is available, without acquiring land from the public.
“We have moved the files related to these projects for Cabinet decision,” said Bishow Bijaya Lal Shrestha, spokesperson for the Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project.
According to him, the move was taken after lawmakers and the concerned municipalities mounted pressure for continuing work in whatever space is available.
Earlier, the Road Expansion Project had made a similar effort to move a file to continue work along the Jorpati-Sundarijal road in available spaces. But political differences between the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the main opposition Nepali Congress on the width of the road complicated the process.
Krishna Rai, a lawmaker from Kathmandu Constituency 3 who represents the communist party, lobbied for widening the road to 22 metres as per the design while Gokarneshwor Municipality, headed by Santosh Chalise, a Congress leader, decided to keep the road only 14 metres wide, according to project officials.
But there are other road widening projects in the Valley, for which decisions on further action are yet to be taken.
Officials at the Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project said almost all road expansion projects can be completed on time if the authorities make a decision and give a green signal to continuing work in available spaces, without acquiring land from the public.
“At least people will get rid of mud and dust if the road expansion work is completed,” said Shrestha.
Last year, authorities had taken the decision to continue work in the available space for the Nagdhunga-Kalanki section and the Chabahil-Sankhu stretch because the former is a strategic road and the latter sees huge traffic movement.
“At that time, the general assumption was that a decision on other projects would be taken after evaluating the outcome on these two roads,” said Shivahari Sapkota, spokesperson for the Department of Roads.
Since that decision, the Kalanki-Nagdhunga road, which was being expanded for over a decade, is almost complete now.
But progress along the Chabahil-Sankhu section has been affected due to flooding, lack of adequate space for drainage and obstruction by locals in several areas, according to the Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project.
Lagankhel-Satdobato, Karmanasa-Harisiddhi-Godavari Kunda, Nakkhu Khola-Bhaisepati-Bungamati, Chakrapath-Gyanjyot Ganesh-Biddhatmarga and Pepsicola-Sallaghari road sections are other areas where expansion work has stalled, according to the Valley Road Expansion Project.