KATHMANDU, May 5: Kathmandu denizens were hoping that the government’s policies and programs announced on Friday would speak at least about two development projects that have long been in their wish list -- the construction of bad roads in the Kathmandu Valley and completion of Melamchi Water Project.
The 27-page document read out by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari in the parliament had only a short sentence declaring new completion deadline -- mid-July next year -- of the Melamchi project. Melamchi has already turned out to be a sick project, at the last leg, largely due to political deadlock.
The project managers had promised to complete the project by mid-July this year in the parliament’s Development and Technology Committee in January if they were allowed to enter into new contract awarding process after the Italian contractor left the project.
Likewise, nothing has been mentioned about the abandoned or extremely slow road construction works in the Kathmandu Valley, including the Kalanki-Nagdhunga and Chabahil-Shankhu roads.
There are several streets in the valley that require either repair or re-construction. Even walking on these streets was very difficult during the rainy season last year. All roads to enter the valley are in bad shape due to lack of proper maintenance. Similar is the fate of highways in the national road network.
Likewise, the policy is silent about roads of other cities that are in similar condition.
Interestingly, the policy fancies about starting a project of planting fruit trees along the highways and river banks.
Meanwhile, the progress in blacktopping of 1,600 kilometers of road as mentioned in the policies and programs document is also not correct, according to government records.
It has been several years since the Vehicle Fitness Test Center was built at Teku in Kathmandu with a budget of Rs 60 million. But the center remains jobless, and the equipment at the center is gathering dust. The government’s policy is silent about bringing it to use, which would ensure transportation safety in the valley and elsewhere.
However, the document, which will later be translated into detailed budget and formal programs of the government, has announced to install similar vehicle fitness centers in the headquarters of all seven provinces.
The number of deaths due to road accidents is increasing alarmingly, but the document does not address the issue sufficiently. However, to the public’s derision, the government keeps announcing its plan of operating Nepal’s own ship bearing the national flag. Friday’s policies and programs emphasized this plan once more.
“The government has been talking about and making announcements of programs that are neither feasible nor practical. On the other hand, it has been leaving out several pertinent issues in project management that have been neglected and abandoned,” said Surya Raj Acharya, an infrastructure policy expert.
Work progress in two airport projects -- Gautam Buddha International Airport and Pokhara International Airport -- are going in the right direction. But the work on other airport projects has seen little progress.
In the document, the government could have done better by announcing project development modality or targets of works to be completed this year, according to experts and government officials.
The government does not seem serious on the Nijgadh international airport project, which was named a national pride project seven years ago. But it announced something new -- that it will convert other domestic airports into international airports.
The document has also stated a kind of imaginary idea of developing roads fit for landing aircraft, which has nowhere been mentioned in any periodic plan or policy document. The idea was also mocked in social media.
Acharya stated that the policy and programs document was ritualistic and lacked any clear vision or goal on carrying out development works and completing projects as per the people’s expectation from this government.
Nevertheless, there are some practical programs in the document, such as setting up automatic cleaning facilities for vehicles at major entry points of the Kathmandu Valley to keep the city free of dust and dirt.