Nepal | March 28, 2020

Urban Road Standard gathers dust at Cabinet for five months

Umesh Poudel

Kathmandu, January 19

As there are high chances of a tussle between the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Urban Development regarding who will be responsible in developing and owning urban roads, the Urban Road Standard has not been implemented for various road projects across the country.

On August 19 last year, the Cabinet meeting had approved the standard that was forwarded by the MoUD on August 14 but the document has not been sent back to the ministry for its implementation.

“The reason why the standard has stalled at the Cabinet is that the document has not clearly mentioned certain specifications,” said a senior official from MoPIT, seeking anonymity.

The standard has not clearly mentioned about which roads will fall under the jurisdiction of MoUD and those that will be developed by MoPIT.

As per the official, MoUD has infringed on the jurisdiction of MoPIT while preparing the standard.

“The standard goes against the spirit of the Road Act, so it will be difficult to implement it even though the Cabinet has ratified it,” the source stated.

“We have raised serious concerns on the issue with the Cabinet through our minister,” the source further said. “The document states that even roads which previously fell under Department of Roads, including highways, will be developed by MoUD, which is infringing in our work area.”

Meanwhile, Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at MoUD, said the ministry is surprised on why Cabinet has still not released the document. “We are the concerned authority but we haven’t received document yet,” he said, adding that this has created difficulties in implementing urban road criteria while building roads. As per the standard, MoUD will be responsible for all categories of roads, including highways, that pass through city areas.

The standard also mentions that the government must construct 1.2-metre-wide bicycle tracks on either side of any urban road. The bicycle tracks need to be built at least one metre away from the road.

Moreover, the standard has also guaranteed pedestrian facilities. It states that footpaths must be constructed along high-traffic urban roads and that there should be a vacant space in between the footpath and bicycle track.

“All roads should be designed and constructed with proper assessment of all environmental and social aspects and their impacts. It must follow environment protection acts and rules of the government,” the standard states.

A version of this article appears in print on January 20, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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