Road office starts disabled-friendly pavement project in KathmanduDisabled people have long been calling on the authorities to build disabled-friendly infrastructure.
The Department of Roads is constructing disabled-friendly pavements in the city for which it has allocated Rs50 million.
Road officials say besides disabled-friendly pavement, they are also installing colourful pavement stones to give a neat appearance to the street.
“This is the first undertaking of the department to make a disabled-friendly and colourful pavement in the city,” said Kuber Nepali, chief of Kathmandu Division Road Office of the department.
In the first phase, the department is going to replace the existing pavement along the 1.5km road section between Putalisadak and Thapathali. The pavement at Durbarmarg and Jamal areas will be replaced in the second phase.
While the city residents have welcomed the department’s initiative, they say disabled-friendly infrastructure should have been constructed a long time ago.
“Why didn’t they think about a disabled-friendly road infrastructure earlier,” said Ram Hari Hamal, who runs a bookstore at Putalisadak. “The authorities may have initiated the project in good faith but it does make one suspect if they are doing this for commission or to spend the budget.”
There is a precedent to suspect the authorities’ decision to dismantle the existing pavement in the name of upgrading the city’s street.
Last year in June, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City was criticised for removing the paving stones at Mahaboudha which had been paved just a year earlier. The city office was accused of pouring funds on an unnecessary project.
Sarita Belbase, who runs a stationery at Thapathali, says she does not see how the road department is going to build a disabled-friendly pavement in front of her shop.
“The pavement outside my shop is too narrow for even two persons to pass at the same time. How are they going to construct a disabled-friendly pavement here?” said Belbase.
The road officials say the disabled-friendly pavement project is a priority for the newly appointed director general of the Department of Roads, Arjun Jung Thapa.
“I urge the public not to generalise everything,” said Nepal. “We have almost asphalted all the road sections in Kathmandu, and we are working to make disable friendly footpath,” said Nepal, the chief of Kathmandu Division Road Office .
Disabled people have long been calling on the authorities to build disabled-friendly infrastructure. They hope that the road department is serious about building disabled-friendly pavements in the city this time.
“A week earlier I was walking from Nepal Tourism Board to Bhadrakali. There is tactile paving on the pavement for blind persons which I followed, only to hit a tree and break my glasses,” said Bimal Khatri, a visually impired person from Balaju. “There are tactile paving in a few places but they are not built to facilitate blind persons.”
According to 2018 ‘Kathmandu Walkability Study’ by the Research Center for Primary Health Care, which surveyed 35 different sections of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City more than 70 percent of roads do not have basic amenities for pedestrians.
The research shows that more than 40 percent of respondents reported multiple incidents and injuries due to poor pedestrian facilities, like a lack of sidewalks of minimum width and crossroads.
“We are very much aware about the state of roads in Kathmandu, that they are not disabled friendly. We are working to improve this,” said Nepal.