Traffic jams on Koteshwor-Jadibuti road getting worseOfficials say the airport authority has not been cooperating fully to allow road widening work on its land due to security concerns.
Pratap Bagale was pleased to learn that the Koteshwor-Jadibuti road was being widened into eight lanes. He had hoped that his daily commute to work would be a breeze, without the pesky traffic jams at Koteshwor once the road has been widened.
That was four months ago, and the work along the 600-metre road is nowhere near complete.
“After months of work, there hasn’t been much change. After the odd and even vehicle rules were lifted, the traffic jam situation is the same here,” said Bagale, a resident of Lokanthali.
Bagale, who works as a marketing officer for a firm in Samakhusi, commutes to work on his motorcycle. He complained that for daily commuters like him, the rush hour traffic jams at Koteshwor are a nightmare.
“I do not know why the work could not be completed till now. If the road office had worked regularly, the road stretch could have been widened within a month,” he said.
After numerous complaints of traffic congestion along the road section, the Department of Roads had signed an agreement with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to use the land belonging to Tribhuvan International Airport to widen the road.
Based on the agreement only three lanes of the southern part of the road section have been dug, but that has not come into operation yet. Meanwhile, work to open another lane in the northern part of the road has not even started.
Officials at the Department of Transport Management have been saying that if the eight lane road section is opened, it would reduce the traffic jams in the Koteshwor area by up to 60 percent.
“We have been urging the authorities concerned to clear the road section as soon as possible and make way for the road widening project, but they have not listened to us,” said SSP Janak Bhattarai, chief of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.
The division’s data show that an estimated 971,000 vehicles used to pass through the Koteshwor area daily between 8am and 6pm before the country went into a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in March last year. Officials say the daily traffic density in the area has reached the same point ever since the government lifted the odd-even vehicle rules a couple weeks ago.
“Koteshwor is a major entry and exit point for vehicles travelling to and from eastern Nepal so the area sees heavy traffic flow. Widening the road could ease the traffic jams in the area, but the airport authority reportedly has not been cooperating as much as we would like it to for the road widening project to complete at the earliest,” said Shyam Krishna Adhikari, spokesperson of the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.
The airport officials declined to comment on the issue, but road officials say that the airport authority is concerned about the security.
“The airport authority has not been cooperating fully because of security concerns as the road is to be widened on the land that falls within the airport’s territory,” Kuber Nepali, chief of Kathmandu Road Division told the Post.
He added the issue of private land acquisition and compensation near an overhead bridge at Jadibuti has also affected the project’s progress.
“We hope to complete this road widening project within six months [mid-June]. We expect that the issues concerning airport and private land acquisition will be settled soon,” said Nepali.
Although there have been talks about opening an underpass between Tinkune and Jadibuti, authorities concerned have yet to make a concrete decision on the matter.
The notorious traffic jams at Kalanki was significantly reduced after an 800 metres long underpass was constructed from Khasibazaar to Bafal as part of Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project.
Experts say an underpass could greatly address the problem of traffic congestion in the Koteshwor area, much to the respite of daily commuters like Bagale.