The road not taken…
With almost no road network till 1950, Tribhuvan Highway came into existence in the late fifties till then there were only 117 km pitched road. Today, 60 districts are connected with national road network that measures 17,192 km in all categories. Besides extension of road network, preserving the existing road should equally be the priority for development. However, road maintenance has become a problem due to fragile topographical and geological structure of the country. Roads Board Nepal (RBN) a sustainable road maintenance management system is formed under Roads Board Act 2002 to provide sustainable fund to road agencies like Department of Roads (DoR) and municipalities for planned maintenance. According to Dipak Nath Chalise, director general at RBN, national roads network asset is above Rs 100 billion. “Regular maintenance of the existing road cuts down to huge cost of rehabilitation cost,” says Chalise.
Road maintenance strategy is based on four inter-dependent systematic activities namely — the routine maintenance, the recurrent cyclic maintenance, the periodic maintenance and the emergency maintenance. RBN is self-governing, self sustaining and organised entity based on Public Private Partnership represented by DoR and five ministries at government level and eight in private sectors. It manages, sources and allocates fund through revenues collected from fuel levy, road user tax, vehicle registration fee and others. “RBN’s main goal is to provide fund for maintenance in order to keep the existing roads in good condition with cheaper operation cost and travel comfort for the public,” says Chalise.
As an autonomous institution, RBN has authority to monitor, control, check, evaluate and to withhold money releases against non-performing road agencies. Challenges for maintenance could be overcome through the efficient management of road fund and proper implementation through road agencies. “RBN being a new organisation is embarking on initial stage,” opines Chalise. Adding, “It is in dire need of strengthening itself in disseminating information of scheme, capacity enhancement for both internal management team and road agencies, contemporary re-structuring, and re-engineering to gradually develop it to the Second Generation Road Fund as defined by road sector scholars and the Road Maintenance Initiatives of the World Bank” Sustainable economic growth and social development depends to a large extent on reliable and functioning road system. As RBN has initiated a cost effective scheme to maintain country’s road system they are looking forward for support from government, policy-making level, road agencies, donors and stakeholders.
Types and Status of Road in Nepal
•National Highways: 3066 km
•Feeder Roads: 1950 km
•Urban Roads: 2051 km
•District Roads: 10125 km