Drainage work along Jamal-Kantipath road creates hassle for localsDepartment of Roads has dug up about 300 metres of the section and left the work incomplete in the rainy season.
Indra Giri, 52, runs Cool Chef Restaurant located in front of the Election Commission office in Kantipath. He does good business for the rest of the year but come monsoon and his daily business dips significantly.
When it rains his street-facing eatery does not attract customers because of the sorry state of the adjoining road which turns into a pool.
“During the monsoon, the street becomes waterlogged because of the poor drainage system in the area,” said Giri. “Workers from the Department of Roads came here a month ago to fix the drainage, but they dug up various sections of the road and left.”
Every monsoon, for over a decade, the Jamal-Kantipath section in ward 27 becomes submerged in rainwater inconveniencing the local residents, businesses and commuters.
“Because of the poor road condition, my business is not doing well,” said Giri, who has been running his business for the past 13 years. “My daily income has decreased from Rs20,000 to Rs 8,000 because fewer people come to my restaurant these days.”
However, it is not just the rains that bring significant losses to Giri’s business. When days are sunny, the road is covered in billowing dust kicked up by passing vehicles.
“This area is becoming increasingly unsuitable for businesses and even for residential purposes. The Department of Roads and the Kathmandu Metropolitan City start digging roads just ahead of the monsoon. This year, the City decided to take care of the drainage problem in this section but the tendency of leaving the work incomplete has created more problems for us,” said Giri.
The Department of Roads has been laying sewer mains in the area for over a month. “We started the work a month ago, but due to continuous rain we could not complete this task,” said Narayan Nihure, the chief of the Road Division, Kathmandu.
He said the division has allocated Rs6.4 million to fix the drainage system along the Jamal-Kantipath road stretch. JSS Engineering and Construction company has the contract for the project.
But when asked why the drainage work could not be started well before the monsoon season so as to avoid waterlogging, Nihure said the sewer in the area is over five decades old and it had to be checked for faults during the rainy season.
Urban planners have been criticising the authorities for a lack of foresightedness and their negligent approach to public work projects.
Prakash Maharjan, a local who runs a grocery store in the area, says the Department of Roads should have started working on the drainage before the monsoon arrived to assuage the problems faced by the locals.
“After a decade of neglect, the local government finally took initiative to fix the drainage, but it should have started work a few months ago,” said Maharjan. “This is just an excuse to use up the budget before the end of this fiscal year.”
Lack of coordination between various government bodies and departments is the reason behind the mess in the Jamal-Kantipath area, argues Yagesh Kumar Khadgi, ward-27 chairman. “The Department of Roads did not communicate with us. In the process of laying pipes for the drainage, they ended up damaging drinking water pipelines,” he said.
“I had told the department that digging the road section during the rainy season was not a good idea,” said Khadgi. “But they did not listen to my suggestions.”
The Department of Roads has dug up around 300 metres of the road section on the left side from the Rastriya Naach Ghar to the Election Commission office. Hume pipes have been laid in some areas and left without covering up and asphalting the surface. Officials said the area will be blacktopped only after mid-September.
Unveiling the annual policies and programmes for the fiscal year 2022-23, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City had given priority to road maintenance under the City’s jurisdiction and fixing the drainage problem. The Kathmandu Metropolitan City has hired an additional 150 cleaners and deployed them to various road sections.
“We are happy that because of the City's initiation the Department of Roads is trying to solve the drainage problem in the area but their work is half-hearted,” said Maharjan. “It has only created more problems for us.”
He said the City’s sweepers and cleaners come to clean the area, but the mud in the dug up section is making their work futile and causing dust pollution.