KATHMANDU, May 4: Unveiling the government’s policy and program for the upcoming fiscal year 2019/20 on Friday, President Bidya Bhandari made a claim on post-earthquake recovery contradicting the plan of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).
In her speech, President Bhandari lauded the progress in the reconstruction of structures affected by the 2015 earthquakes and started off by claiming that the reconstruction in sectors including private housing, public structures and cultural heritage will be completed in two years which is in line with the NRA plan.
President Bhandari then said, “Reconstruction of the earthquake affected roads will be completed within the next fiscal year.” This contradicts the reconstruction body’s plan to complete the road reconstruction in two years.
But road reconstruction remains the slowest among the quake-hit sectors. In the first three years since the establishment of the NRA, only four percent of the total earthquake-damaged roads were rebuilt while work on 46 percent of the damaged roads has started but they have yet to be completed. And reconstruction of fifty percent of the quake-damaged roads has not started.
When the reconstruction body published its progress report on December 25, 2018 marking three years of its establishment, various stakeholders had questioned the road reconstruction target. Experts had claimed that reconstruction of roads cannot be completed in two years. But Friday’s policy and program document aims to complete road reconstruction within the upcoming fiscal year 2019/20.
Officials from the NRA have claimed that the target set by the policy and program is unattainable. According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the authority Sushil Gyewali only the roads whose reconstruction progress has already been started can be completed by the fiscal year 2019/20 and that the pace of reconstruction of roads is completely dependent on the allocation of resources including funds.