KATHMANDU, Dec 5: At a time different candidates have been promising to build roads, among other things, to attract voters, progress in road construction, however, has remained very poor.
The government has managed to spend only Rs 7.88 billion, or only about 10 percent, of the total Rs 75.59 billion allocated for different road projects in the first four months of Fiscal Year 2017/18.
Gopal Sigdel, director general of the Department of Roads (DoR), attributes dismal performance of road projects to shortage of workforce and construction materials due to dispute in extraction of raw materials in local rivers and quarries, and dispute in road alignment, among other factors. He also said that the local elections and the ongoing elections for federal and provincial parliaments have also affected road projects. “These road projects will move ahead smoothly after the election,” he added. “We have almost achieved spending progress as the target is somewhere around 10 to 12 percent.”
Road projects like Baglung-Beni, Damak-Chiasapani, Debsthal-Kaindanda-Chaurjahari-Dolpa, Phikkal-Shree Antu Danda, Outer Ring Road of Kathmandu valley and Thori-Bhandara-Lothar-Malekhu road projects made zero progress in the four months of the current fiscal year, according to a report for the period prepared by the DoR.
Billions of rupees have been allocated for this project. But they have failed to spend even a penny.
Likewise, Sitapaila-Dharke road project, which has received a budgetary allocation of Rs 200 million, has not been able to make any progress. Other road projects that have not made any progress are Kumud Bodh Marga (Banke), Nepalgunj Ring Road, Lumbini-Bhairahawa Ringroad, Tribeni, Dumkibas-Gaindakot-Ramdi-Ridi-Tamghas-Sandhikharka-Gorusinghe-Taulihawa road. Likewise, Mahakali Corridor (Brahmadev-Jhulaghat-Darchula-Tinkar) has achieved only 0.15 percent progress in the first four months of the current fiscal year.
Few projects, however, have achieved good progress. Benighat-Arughat-Larkebhannjyang and Beshishahar-Chame-Manang road projects have achieved 60 and 32.5 percent financial progress, respectively, while north-south corridor projects in Karnali, Koshi, Kali Gandaki basins has achieved an average of 35 percent progress.
The DoR has now been relieved of the burden of administering small roads this year. This means its engineers cannot focus on big or strategic projects. The government has entrusted small road projects to newly elected local bodies.