Flyover and underpass plans fail to convince some urban plannersSimilar projects were announced in the past, only to be abandoned, they say.
Urban planners have looked askance at the government’s plan to build flyovers and underpasses in Kathmandu to resolve the issue of traffic congestion.
As Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada unveiled the plan for a major traffic infrastructure project for the Capital city in his budget speech on Thursday, many people in the field of urban planning and design heard the tried and failed script that harked back to the budget addresses of previous years.
Flyovers and underpasses along the Tinkune-Jadibuti road, an underpass at the New Baneshwor junction and an alternative road to connect Tripureshwor and Maitighar. These projects may sound good to the ears, but the urban planners the Post talked to are not convinced that they will be realised.
They say such projects were announced in the previous years as well, but they never materialised.
“We don’t doubt the government’s intention. In fact, this is a very positive announcement that carries a great urgency to address the issue concerning the city’s traffic. But the main thrust of our doubt is the implementation of these projects,” Suman Maher Shrestha, an urban planner, told the Post.
Shrestha speaks based on the track record of the government. Similar projects had been announced in previous budgets and failed to hit the ground running.
“I will continue to reserve my skepticism until I see the detailed project reports. There have been a lot of master plans made by Japan International Cooperation Agency and Asian Development Bank that have not been executed,” he added.
The Department of Roads in 2018 had announced to construct an underpass in New Baneshwor through Bijulibazar and extend it up to Shantinagar. The undertaking was set to be completed by 2020, but the project was never realised.
Kishor Thapa, a former government secretary and an urban planning expert, cautiously welcomed the government’s plan.
“Construction of the infrastructure announced by the finance minister is vital. The Department of Roads should start the projects without delay,” he said.
Thapa gives the benefit of doubt to the government. Despite several projects getting mothballed or delayed, he keeps an optimistic outlook.
“The government has recently constructed two arch bridges in Dhobi Khola, though they are yet to be officially opened,” he told the Post.
But he does submit that commitment and execution are wanting on the part of the government and other agencies concerned.
The flyover project for Maitighar-Tinkune road was also proposed by the Nepali Congress government led by Sushil Koirala back in 2014. As per the plan, the Kathmandu Valley Improvement Project had conducted a feasibility study in 2015.
The project, however, failed to take off due to several reasons, including the earthquake and political turmoil.
If the government did deliver on the projects this time around, the city’s traffic could be greatly eased. Moreover, the city’s motorists, commuters, traffic police will be relieved.
“With the proposed infrastructure in place, the job of traffic police will be eased,” SSP Bhim Prasad Dhakal, chief at Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, told the Post.
But again, the flyovers and underpasses will be built only if the government earnestly implemented the projects.