Govt seeks $22m for improvement of bridges

Chitwan, July 27

Along with the upgradation of the Narayangadh-Mugling road section under World Bank-aided Nepal-India Regional Trade and Transport Project (NIRTTP), the government has sought an additional $22 million from the World Bank for improvement of bridges of this road section.

There are 18 bridges along the 33 km road section upgraded by the World Bank-funded NIRTTP. Four of the bridges are being  improved from the current allocation of $48 million for road upgradation. However, additional resources for the upgradation and maintenance of the bridges are required as early as possible in view of the condition of the bridges in this road section, which is considered a lifeline of the country. This road caters to 90 per cent of the total trade, which is 35 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The annual traffic flow in this road section was witnessed at 18,000 passenger car unit (PCU) in 2016, which is expected to increase to 25,000 PCU by 2022.

The World Bank has provided support for the upgradation of this road section eyeing the increasing traffic flow over the years. However, upgradation of Narayangadh-Mugling road is not enough for the robust connectivity to Kathmandu from Tarai and China border.

Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank country manager for Nepal, said that as Nepal government has plans to upgrade the Rasuwagadhi-Galchhi road section to establish robust connectivity with China, the traffic flow will rise in the Mugling-Naubise section and there must be another alternative. The government is going to mobilise the Japanese government’s assistance to develop a tunnel from Naubise to Nagdhunga.

The World Bank has suggested an alternative of 11.2 km bypass from Sisne Khola (tunnel exit point), Naubise to Dharke that connects Mugling. It is reported that the Department of Roads has sought support for the improvement of Kathmandu-Naubise-Mugling road corridor owing to the growing traffic volume and potential of high traffic volume in the future. Another two-lane bypass from Bishaltar to Phisling (15.3 km) has been proposed along the other side of Trishuli River to avoid steep sections.

Upgradation of Mugling-Narayangadh road section is almost completed and upgradation works are being carried out in the remaining three kilometres from Mugling. Three contractors have been working on this road section simultaneously, with defect liability period of one year for contractors if any damages occur due to technical deficiency of the contractors. The project was initiated from mid-September, 2013. The road section has been upgraded to two-lane Asian standards.

To avoid frequent landslides and stabilise the slopes, the project has given proper attention to bioengineering (plantation and other measures) and stabilising the slopes using rock wire netting in the vulnerable areas.

Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, said that road construction is a multidisciplinary issue and the upgradation of this road section will help to minimise the cost of trade. He underscored the need of improving bridges in this section as some of the bridges are in a vulnerable state.