Road widening works along Lamahi-Tulsipur progress at a snail’s pace
The road widening works of the Lamahi-Ghorahi-Tulsipur section have been delayed due to outright negligence of the contractor, leaving the local people in hardship, project officials have said.
Only about 10% of the work of the ongoing four-lane road expansion has been completed so far, although the project contract has been extended four times. “The progress of works is not satisfactory,” said Arjun Kumar Bam, Lamahi office manager of the Lamahi-Ghorahi-Tulsipur dual carriageway project. “The road construction work is progressing at a snail’s pace. We have doubts about the realization of the road project in this situation.
The road project started about four years ago with financial support from the Nepalese government and loan assistance from the Export-Import Bank of India. Indian construction company Fact Engineering and Design Organization won the US$12.1 million contract.
The project agreement was signed on February 7, 2019. According to the agreement, the road project is expected to be completed by May 11, 2020. The third time extension for the project ended on May 12, 2022. According to the road project, the process is about to extend the project deadline for the fourth time.
“We even thought about terminating the project agreement, but again decided to extend the contract because canceling the contract agreement would cause further procedural difficulties,” Bam said. “The entrepreneur lost the first 30 months. There are no problems and obstruction for construction works. The road project was delayed due to contractor negligence.
The Indian construction company has handed over responsibility for road construction to Nepalese companies. Nepalese construction companies have also been changed many times. Shrestha Construction is currently carrying out the construction works from March 10, 2022.
Officials of the construction company admit the delay in the work. “We are not able to complete the works at a good pace,” said Shekhar Sharma, the director of Shrestha Construction. “About 50 workers are now on the ground. We could not mobilize the workers during the rainy season. The work will only gain momentum after Tihar [a major Hindu festival which falls in October fourth week this year].”
The widening works of the 28 km Babaikhola road from Ghorahi to Tulsipur are ongoing. The stretch of road has been accident prone as the works have been left unfinished for a long time. The road has been narrowed as road expansion works are in progress on both sides of the road.
According to the Dang District Police Bureau, a total of 65 road accidents have occurred along the Lamahi-Ghorahi-Tulsipur road section since the start of the road widening works in 2019, killing 22 people and incurring hurtful 78.
“With the narrowed road, we don’t know when the vehicle overturns,” said Ghanshyam Basnet, a Dang-based transport entrepreneur. “The chances of vehicles hitting utility poles are also high, as the utility poles have not yet been removed from the road. The Lamahi-Ghorahi-Tulsipur road has been a death trap lately.