Landslide at Daklang region along the track opened by China. Photo by: Ramesh Khatiwada
SINDHUPALCHOWK, June 9: While the northern custom point at Tatopani continues to operate temporarily, the road structure remains in jeopardy for four years after the devastating earthquake.
The 2015 earthquake, immediately followed by floods in Bhotekoshi River, had crippled the 21-km road segment which led to the major custom point connecting China. Construction on the devastated track was initiated by the Chinese government.
“More than a dozen sections of the China-funded road from Besari to the border at Liping are at risk from landslides,” A senior official from the Department of Roads stated. “The custom point has been functioning out of the four temporary Bailey Bridges from Barhabise's Sadhi River to Larcha.”
The road that extends along Bhotekoshi's bank has no steady structure that keeps it aloof from the risk of getting dragged by the river's current, which risks the structure of the road from landslides and other monsoon calamities.
A high-level government probe team—including Foreign Minister Pradip Kumar Gyawali and Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation Raghubir Mahaseth—was asked by Chinese officials if they wanted only the operation of the track, or an alternative construction of stronger foundations, in April.
An official who was in the briefing stated: “The then Chinese team had agreed in constructing sturdy structures but they went on to only build the track and topped the road with common concrete.”
"However, according to the Chinese authorities involved in the project, the team had proceeded with the plan in agreement with the government of Nepal," the official said.
Initially, the government of Nepal had decided to restart the track on its own, and had even started the tender process; however, the process were terminated in the middle following a notice issued by the Ministry of Finance that mentioned the Chinese authorities' involvement in the reconstruction.
DISCUSSION FOR LONG-TERM RECONSTRUCTION
Director General of Department of Transport Keshav Sharma said that the road structure of Tatopani border was not able to withstand landslides and floods.
“We had wanted to open the track on our own, but somehow China started the work," he added “Discussion is going on to build structures suiting the geography."
The temporary opening of the border, which is 114-km far from the capital, is aimed at re-establishing the major trade route between the two countries.
The road reaching Tatopani had been worst affected due to the Jure landslide of August, 2014, earthquake of April, 2015 and the flood of July, 2016.