Ring Road expansion works face delaysDepartment of Roads says the project will start soon after it receives the design from the Chinese company.
The second phase of Ring Road expansion project is likely to start only from next year, according to the officials at the Department of Roads.
The expansion of 8.2km road from Kalanki to Maharajgunj was to be carried out by China from early 2020.
Now Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project, which is under the Department of Roads, says the project will move forward soon after the Chinese side comes up with the design.
“The Chinese side has neither prepared the road design nor submitted the Detailed Project Report so far,” said Arjun Jung Thapa, director general of the department.
The project has also been delayed as the Nepali authorities are yet to clear the roadside structures at Swayambhu and complete the land acquisition process at Maharajgunj.
The Chinese contractor has said that it cannot go ahead with the project until the road section is cleared.
On October 11 last year, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure had issued a directive to the authorities concerned to start the road clearance work. The task, however, could not go ahead as the residents of Swayambhu and Maharajgunj opposed the road expansion plan.
Swayambhu residents are against the idea of removing the roadside shrines in the name of road development.
“While Infrastructure Minister Basanta Kumar Nembang has assured us that the government will preserve the shrines, we have yet to get a written assurance,” said Sunil Gurung, chairperson of Manang Samiti, an organisation spearheading the campaign to preserve the shrines at Swayambhu.
“There has not been any progress on the issue after the Prime Minister Oli dissolved Parliament on December 20,” added Gurung.
At Maharajgunj, the authorities have still not acquired 16 ropanis of private land that falls on the proposed road expansion site. The land owners have refused to give up their property and some of them have even filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court against the road expansion plan.
Arjun Suwal, chief of Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project, has said the major issues hindering the project development have been settled and that the Chinese contractor can start the work.
“About 98 percent of the road clearance work has been completed. We have removed all the electric poles, cables and trees from the proposed road expansion site,” said Suwal.
In December 2019, the Department of Roads had assured that the road expansion work would start from early 2020. But the project could not start because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the opposition from the residents of Swayambhu and Maharajgunj.
Suwal said once the Chinese government passes the design, the Ring Road expansion work can start from next year.
He also assured that the expanded road will be pedestrian and cyclist friendly, unlike the Koteshwor-Kalanki section of the Ring Road, also designed and developed by China.
In January 2019, the Chinese government handed over the 10.5km Koteshwor-Kalanki road expansion project to the Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project.
But the newly widened road, which cost Rs 5.13 billion, was criticised for being a death trap for pedestrians as it lacked footpaths, crossroads, cycle lanes, street lamps, medians, overhead bridges, traffic lamps and dividers.
“None of these mistakes will be repeated while developing the new section of Ring Road,” said Suwal.