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Chabahil-Sankhu road expansion: Project faces more delay

A water chamber being constructed by the Melamchi project at Chuchchepati in Chabahil, Kathmandu.

KATHMANDU:  The Chabahil-Sankhu Road expansion project—which was supposed to be completed by December this year—is set to be delayed by at least two years due to myriad problems facing the expansion drive, road officials warn.

The road expansion project, divided into four segments and each handled by a separate contractor, has hardly made any progress in the first section, while only 30 percent of work has been completed in the remaining sections since the agreement in October 2015.

Stakeholders tried to lament the delay, giving a host of reasons including no supply of construction materials due to the trade embargo of 2015 that occurred immediately after the signing of the agreement; delay in marking of houses that face demolition; court stay orders; poor response from telephone and electricity companies to move the poles, and contractors blaming no site clearance.

Apart from the retaining walls along the road, there have been very little progress on the road stretches—the Bagmati bridge Jorpati-Thali bazaar, Thali bazzar-Indreni and Indreni-Sankhu. The 11.5-km Chabahil-Sankhu road has been proposed to have a 2-metre wide footpath on each side, 50-cm-long tick drain and drainage hume pipes under the footpath with the driveway to be 17 metres wide.

But the delay has only compounded the problem in the road stretch—one of the busiest in the Capital.

Every year during monsoon, the road section between Chabahil and Bouddha turns into a virtual pond as torrential rains cause water-logging in the streets. According to the Kathmandu Valley Road Improvement Project (KVRIP), the drains in those areas have clogged and the underground drainage system has some defects.

“The roads have to be dug up to clear the drains. So we are planning to do it simultaneously with the road expansion process,” said Bishwo Bijay Lal Shrestha, an engineer at the KVRIP. “At the onset of each monsoon, we try to fix the roads. But this stop-gap measure has been the waste of our time, money and labour.”

Shrestha added that the agreement on maintenance of the road section was not incorporated in the initial agreement paper, which has affected the maintenance of the road.

Despite pressure from the authorities to complete the projects on time, the contractors claim they have been bogged by obstructions from the locals, especially those whose houses have been marked for demolition.

“Obstructions from locals have prevented us from carrying out expansion works,” said Sukuntalal Hirachand, managing director of the United Builders and Engineers Private Limited. But with heavy penalties looming over his company because of delays, Hirachand asserts the company will get on with the task. “We are starting the work from October 15 this year.”

The company has been assigned with the task to expand the road between Chabahil and the Bagmati bridge at Jorpati.

Around 300 houses located within 12 metres from the centre of the road will be demolished to expand the existing 8-metre road to 22 metres.

House owners in the area, who are against the demolition drive, have filed a writ in the Supreme Court demanding a better compensation for their properties. Under the current provision, house owners are only entitled to compensation of the houses, not the land on which they were built.

However, the locals have been demanding augmentation in the compensation rate for their houses and asking the government to compensate for the land they stand to lose. The hearing on the writ is scheduled for August 10.

–  By Samipa Khanal for TKP

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