A year after handover of Kalanki-Koteshwor road, the eight-lane expressway still lacks safety infrastructureForty-five people have died and 769 others have been injured on the road in the past 19 months.
Even a year after the Chinese handover of the 10.5 km Kalanki-Koteshwor road to Nepal, the government authorities have not added any road safety infrastructure along the eight-lane expressway to prevent the increasing number of road traffic casualties.
Data from the Metropolitan Traffic Police Range, Lalitpur, show that 1,118 traffic accidents occurred along the road in the past 19 months, killing 45 people and injuring 769 others.
“It’s been a year since China handed over the road, and the government has not added even a single safety infrastructure to prevent road accidents,” said Inspector Rajesh Silwal, chief of the traffic police range.
The data on road accidents only take account of those cases reported to the traffic police.
Silwal said as there are no CCTVs and street lamps along the road, many road accidents could have gone unrecorded.
In January last year, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi had formally handed over the Kalanki-Koteshwor road to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. At the time of the handover, the road had already witnessed more than a dozen fatal traffic accidents.
After repeated media coverage on the lack of safety infrastructure on the road and concerns raised by urban planners, traffic police, cyclists and pedestrians, the Department of Roads had launched a safety audit of the road in February 2019.
The audit team suggested constructing zebra crossings, installation of traffic lights, median, information boards, designated parking stations, proper U-turn, and overpass for pedestrians. The department has not heeded to any of the suggestions so far.
An independent inspection of the road made by the Post recently found that there were only five faded zebra crossings— at Koteshwor, Gwarko, Satdobato, Ekantakuna and Balkhu— along the road. Similarly, there were no median, except at significant junctions. The road also lacked lane barriers at most places, allowing people to cross from wherever they please and confusing the motorists trying to make U-turns.
“I feel insecure about riding on this road. There are no dividers and we have so many reckless drivers,” said Biraj Adhikari, a Kuleshwor resident who travels on the road daily, told the Post.
Last year, the Department of Roads had also announced to construct six overhead bridges in Balkumari, Satdobato, Mahalaxmisthan, Ekantakuna, Sanepa and Balkhu. Only three of them have been built so far.
“The construction of overhead bridges in Balkumari, Satdobato and Ekantakuna are in limbo. The road department has not shown any urgency to complete these projects. This is very unfortunate because it concerns the safety of the people,” said Silwal.
When the Post reached out to Keshav Kumar Sharma, director general at the Department of Roads, to inquire about the safety issue of the road, he said that he was unaware about the subject and suggested contacting his deputy.
Saroj Pradhan, deputy director general of the department, however, said that it was Sharma who ought to know the details about the Kalanki-Koteshwor road.
“I am not the authorised person to give an update on the issue. It’s DG Sharma who need to give you the details,” said Pradhan.