Govt plans to invest Rs 816bn to develop transport sector

Kathmandu, April 17

The government has envisioned mobilising Rs 816 billion for road infrastructure, rail connectivity and transport

sector management in the next five years.

Unveiling the five-year strategic plan, which was recently endorsed by the Cabinet, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT), has said that the entire population will not only benefit from road access in the next five years but also from a secured, reliable and affordable transport system. The plan will be implemented from fiscal 2016-17.

The strategic plan has also talked about establishing adequate road networks in the country, which will address the requirement of road infrastructure in the federal system, which the country is going to implement in the near future.

In the first stage, upgradation and maintenance of roads and brides damaged by the temblors of April and May last year, and proper maintenance and widening of strategic trade routes with neighbouring India and China have been prioritised.

According to MoPIT, altogether 400 kilometres of roads and 87 bridges were affected by the earthquakes. Through the strategic plan, MoPIT has aimed to reconstruct 135 km of roads damaged by the earthquake in three years.

This covers Dolakha-Singati; Panchkhal-Melamchi and Dhading-Aarughat-Gorkha sections. Besides, damaged sections of Araniko Highway, BP Highway and Gorkha-Barpak road will be rebuilt.

Similarly, district headquarters of Dolpa and Humla, which still lack road connectivity, will be linked by road networks within two years. Simikot of Humla will be linked via China within two years and from Kalikot in another five years. Motorable roads in Bhojpur, Khotang, Mustang and Bajura district headquarters will be fully black-topped within thedeadline of the strategic plan.

The strategic plan unveiled today has also prioritised upgradation of national highways which are important in terms of trade and mobility of people. About 588 km of the East-West Highway from Kakarvitta to Butwal will be developed

as four-lane expressway in the next five years. Most importantly, the 1,079-km long two-lane Mid-hill Highway will be black-topped within the deadline of strategic plan and 105 bridges will be built along this highway.

On the other hand, Dharan-Chatara-Gaighat- Katari-Sindhuli-Hetauda road section (318 km) and Tulsipur-Purandhara-Bhotechaur section (86 km) will be black-topped within the next three years, as per MoPIT. Similarly, the ministry aims to black-top 607 km of the 1,792-km long two-lane postal highway in the next two years and detailed project report (DPR) of the remaining 1,185 km will be developed in two years and road construction will be concluded by fiscal 2020-21. Similarly, it aims to complete expansion of Butwal-Gaddachauki road section of far-western Nepal in five years.

The strategic plan also aims to develop north-south trade routes namely, Koshi corridor and Kaligandaki corridor. These corridors were also in the priority of National Transport Policy introduced in fiscal 2001-02. Apart from these corridors, road connectivity from Jomsom to Korala Pass (Chinese border), which is 100 km long will be developed within three years.

Two trade routes, namely the 188-km long Thori-Bhandara- Malekhu-Galchhi-Trishuli-Syafrubesi-Rasuwagadhi and the 310-km long Bhittamod-Dhalkebar-Sindhuli-Manthali-Dolakha-Singati-Lamabagar-Lapcha sections, will be upgraded into two-lane highway to link India to China within two and three years, respectively.

MoPIT has also prioritised better road networks in Kathmandu Valley and its outskirts as well as upgradation of Birgunj-Narayangadh-Mugling route to boost trade. Apart from this, it also plans to upgrade roads in bordering towns with India namely, Biratnagar-Itahari; Jatahi-Janakpur-Dhalkebar; Birgunj-Pathlaiya; Belahiya-Butwal and Mohana Bridge-Attariya-Godavari to four-lane highways.

The strategic plan has also prioritised development of rail transport in the country. In this regard, the 69-km long Jayanagar-Janakpur-Bardibas rail route will be developed by 2018-19. Also, the track bed and bridges for the Mechi-Mahakali railway project will be developed by fiscal 2019-20. The government also aims to remove the deep-rooted syndicate problem in the existing transport system as well as study and develop the potential of water transport in big rivers, like Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali. It also aims to develop viable ropeways for transportation of goods.