DoR working on various projects despite lockdown

Kathmandu, April 21

Despite the countrywide lockdown, construction work of 150 projects related to roads and bridges has been accelerated by the Department of Roads (DoR). If the situation is favourable, the DoR plans to start 100 additional projects within the ongoing fiscal year.

Work on 65 bridges and 85 road projects was being carried out till Monday evening, informed Keshab Kumar Sharma, director general of DoR. “We have received numerous queries from contractor companies to resume the work and we are coordinating with different stakeholders to simplify the process,” he said.

“The contractors are ready to start work and we are also ready to provide them with all the necessary support. So, the construction works will begin as per our goal,” he added.

Various development projects have been halted since the start of the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown imposed by the government to prevent possible spread of infections. There are more than 3,000 small- and largesized projects that are under construction under the DoR. “So, we are gradually resuming the construction work on some projects even during the lockdown,” informed Sharma.

Some development works had started after the High-Level Coordination Committee on Coronavirus Prevention and Control decided to allow the construction activities of infrastructure projects to resume but by meeting different health standards such as maintaining social distancing among workers.

The DoR has sought approval for work to resume on some projects that could face damages if not completed before the advent of the rainy season. The high-level committee decided that it could be done with the approval of the respective District Administration Office (DAO).

At present, construction works on various projects are being carried out with the approval of the concerned DAO. Apparently, it is not only the DoR that has been construction roads and bridges. Construction of other projects related to hydropower and airport, among others, is also being carried out during the lockdown.

“About 3,500 workers are working just under the DoR at present in different projects,” said Sharma. According to him, priority has been accorded to construction of various bridges and work on 75 bridges has been expedited so that they are completed before the monsoon starts as they could be damaged by the floods.

However, locals of certain areas have raised hurdles against the transport of construction materials and work has been affected. According to DoR, the DAOs and municipalities of concerned places have given their approval, but the locals have not allowed the transportation of construction materials due to fear of the coronavirus spreading in their localities. The DoR said it is holding talks with the locals to resolve the problem.

Earlier, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Basanta Kumar Nembang had submitted a proposal for construction and repair of different projects at a meeting of the High-Level Coordination Committee on Coronavirus Prevention and Control.

The high-level committee, which is headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Ishwar Pokhrel, had issued a circular to concerned ministries to take the approval from the concerned DAOs to run different projects. The committee had also decided that work on various infrastructure projects could be carried out by following the necessary precautionary measures, such as maintaining social distance among workers.

A version of this article appears in print on April 22, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.