China Bridge near Prithvi Chowk is crowded with motor vehicles. The road connects Pokhara Regional International Airport with Pokhara City. Umesh Pun/Republica
POKHARA, June 5: Construction work on Pokhara Regional International Airport is going on in full swing. If things go as planned, officials say the airport project will be completed at least six months ahead of the deadline.
However, the road that connects the airport, which is five kilometers away from the Pokhara city center, is in bad shape. Though different infrastructures are coming up near the airport, the access road to the airport lacks bridges, drainage and pavements, among others.
“To make sure that the airport comes into operation before 2021, the government should immediately start building necessary infrastructure,” Santosh Pokharel, president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) Gandaki Province Association, said. "The airport should be connected to the Pokhara city center by an expressway. We have to make sure that passengers reach their destination on time,” he said.
"Prithvi Highway is already crowded. Traffic on the highway is increasing with every passing day. Due to traffic congestion, we cannot reach office on time. The government should take these factors into consideration," Pokharel added.
Dil Gautam, general secretary of Pokhara Tourism Council, said that the government should immediately widen Kotre-Pokhara road (18 km). "It takes at least one hour to reach Kotre – the bordering point between Kaski and Tanahu districts – these days. Earlier, it would take only about half an hour," Gautam added.
Ananda Raj Mulmi, former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), feels the need to beautify the road connecting Pokhara city center to the airport. "There are any vehicle workshops around the airport area. This way, tourists won't be able to observe a good view while coming out from the airport,” he said.
Mulmi underscored the need to widen the Prithvi Highway that connects Pokhara with Kathmandu. "Those who do not get tickets to their destination from Kathmandu might want to come to Pokhara to fly to their destinations. But it won't be possible if the highway is not upgraded," he added.
Man Bahadur GC, the mayor of Pokhara Metropolitan City, said bridges over Vijaypur Khola, Kali Khola, Syangkhudi and Firke, were being built. "Preparations are underway to expand Mid Hill Highway and Siddhartha Highway to ease movement of air passengers," he said, adding that the local government was careful about readying necessary infrastructure by the time the airport comes into operation.