Delay in road blacktopping triggers protest, road block in Gorkha

Published On: March 1, 2020 08:56 AM NPT By: Narahari Sapkota

GORKHA, Mar 1: Demanding a permanent solution to the dilapidated and dusty roads, the locals of Nayasaghu, Siranchowk Rural Municipality of Gorkha have taken to the streets. In recent days, they have been demonstrating on the street against Nagarjun Trishuli JV Construction Company which is responsible for repairing and blacktopping the Barhakilo–Barpak road section. The blacktopping was supposed to be completed last year but it is not near completion yet. On Friday, the locals even blocked the road for sometime as a symbolic protest against the poor road condition.   

The dusty road has directly affected the households alongside the road and markets at Khaireniban, Nayasaghu, Khaharebajar and Mahatar, among other areas. When vehicles get through the road, the entire area turns dusty. Similarly, even a little rain makes the road a hell to cross. Locals have warned of serious protests in the days to come if the contractor and the authorities continue to remain apathetic to their situation.   

"This is not just a question of inconvenience but now it has become a huge health concern. The road is giving us diseases," fumed Kanchan Kumar Shrestha, one of the protestors spotted at Nayhasaghu on Friday. "Their duty is to complete the blacktopping on time. But because they are not doing their work honestly, we are suffering," he added. 

Shrestha who is in the forefront of the protest further stated that the locals showed patience for long. But they can no more remain silent, he added.   

The locals have even raised fund for bettering the road. In the last four months, they tried to fix the dust problem on their own. "We raised money and watered the road to get rid of dust. That worked a little but that is simply not a permanent solution," said Shrestha. 

Businesspersons in the local markets have urged the government to 'bring the contractor to size'. The contractor's monopoly has cost them a lot, they lamented. Even new cloths or new home appliances look so old and second hand, due to dust, they complained. 

Meanwhile, Prakash Chandra Dawadi, a lawmaker of Gandaki Province, stated that the government has not been able to safeguard the people's fundamental rights. "The government's loyalty seems to be toward builders and contractors than the people. It is very sad," he noted. "Had the government been a little sensitive toward the people, they would not have to go through this level of inconvenience," he said adding that the contractors who do not complete projects on time should be punished without delay. 

The road which has given immense trouble to the locals as it is not yet blacktopped is less than 20 kilometers long. And the government had handed over the contract three years ago with agreement that the work would be done in two years. According to District Chief of the project office of Mid-Hill Highway, Saurav Bajracharya, the issue is actually related to the mid-hill highway. "Earlier, the road was being freely maintained, now as some sections of it are parst of the mid-hill highway, things are a bit complicated," he said. "Now, there is a need to expand it to a two-lane road," he explained.  

Locals are however not happy with such explanations. Stating that their day to day life has been hampered, they have demanded quick response to their problem. Bhimsen Man Shrestha of Nayasaghu stated that the road would be blocked again on Sunday. "We will block the road on Sunday from 5 am to 6 pm. We want to put pressure on the authorities to fix this unbearable problem," he said.

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