We have all seen solar powered streetlights being set up in the city and wondered who was behind this brilliant idea. Last year, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) signed an agreement with B.K. Traders and Suppliers to complete the installation of solar-powered street lamps at various streets in the capital. This public-private partnership was the brainchild of Roshan Shrivastava, director of B.K. Traders and Suppliers. The Week’s Ashma Chhetri caught up with Shrivastava to find out more the project that is soon going to light up our city.
Tell us more about this project.
It is a public-private partnership project for the next ten years between Kathmandu Metropolitan City and B.K. Traders and Suppliers. Under this project, B.K. Traders and Suppliers will be installing 1285 street lights all around Kathmandu city and we will be taking care of it for the next ten years. After that, the KMC will take over. This initiation of the project was done by KMC, but B.K. Traders and Suppliers will bear the total cost of the project.
How did this project start?
All of us are familiar with the problems of street lighting in the city. Only a few lamps work, and the load shedding made the problem worse. The streets, because of lack of lights, are never safe for traveling during nighttime. We often hear cases of people being robbed, and girls being assaulted in the dark. We wanted to try and make the city safe and put an end to these social problems, and lighting up the city seemed like the perfect way to start. And it was something we had the capabilities to do.
What kinds of lamps are being installed on the streets?
We are providing highly galvanized poles with mono crystal solar panels. The poles have LED lights of 50 watts that will be operated by a lithium battery. Along with that, the poles also consist of three by four feet advertisement box, where brands can display their products. I guarantee that the lights will not malfunction even if there is continuous rain and storm for days.
Have you had to face many challenges along the way?
Success can never be achieved without challenges and difficulties. We have also faced a lot of problems every time we set out to install a street lamp. There are many high-tension lines and unmanaged wires just dangling about between poles. This creates disturbances and, because of it, we also face technical problems while setting up streets lamps. Also, Kathmandu roads are ill-suited for carrying out any construction work. Since the roads are not wide enough and we have to leave ample space for pedestrians to pass, it doesn’t leave us with much space to work. There are many things we must navigate around on a daily basis to complete the project.
How do you plan to make the project justify the investment?
There is an advertisement box attached to each lamp, and B.K. Traders and Supplier will be renting them out to advertisers. We hope to slowly get our investment back that way. Having said that, there is no assurance that all the boxes will be used. After all, advertising is still in its infancy in Nepal. But the risk was one we were willing to take. Our goal was to first light up the city streets.
Is there a plan in place to ensure the project runs smoothly upon completion?
We have already installed 820 lamps in the city and the other 465 lamps will soon be up too. It’s going to take another two to three months but it will be done. After that, to clean and maintain the newly set up lamps will also be our responsibility and we will see to it that they function at their best. Not only that but if anybody has any complaints or suggestions regarding any solar-powered street lamps installed by us, they can contact us and we will provide the needed service as soon as we can.