KATHMANDU: Despite being the capital city, Kathmandu lacks roads and other traffic infrastructures suited to persons with disabilities.
Neither are the newly constructed over-head bridges -- including that along the Kalanki-Koteshwor road section -- disability friendly nor do traffic lights have the beep system to facilitate persons with disabilities navigate crossings at major interactions in the valley, leaving them vulnerable to accidents.
Arjun Jung Thapa, Chief at the Department of Roads (DoR) accepted that these infrastructures are not disabled friendly yet. "The DoR did not have a design in place for the construction of disability friendly lane nor did the Chinese side have it in their original designs while constructing the road," Thapa shared.
"We were not able to construct a disability friendly lane in the newly constructed bridge in Chabahil due to space constraints," DoR chief Thapa lamented. However, he stated that the new infrastructures along the Butwal-Belhiya six-lane road are being constructed keeping in mind disability inclusiveness.
He also shared that the Intelligent Traffic Light System will have a beep mechanism to facilitate people with disabilities.
"The Constitution of Nepal has incorporated special provisions related to 'Right to Equality' to all regardless of their origin, sex, disabilities, social and cultural background among others. However, the concerned authorities responsible for implementing such laws have turned their backs to this critical issue," said Devi Acharya, vice-president of the Nepal Spinal Cord Injury Sports Association (NSCISA).
Acharya added that lack of disability friendly infrastructures has perpetuated challenges for persons with disabilities.
Likewise, the DoR has also failed to complete the unfinished service lane connecting Khasibazaar to Sita Petrol Pump along Kalanki-Balkhu road section. A year ago, the Chinese government had handed over the eight-lane road to Nepal government.
The gavin wall which was constructed to support the road has collapsed but there are no signs of construction anytime soon. DoR Chief Thapa informed that the road will be constructed soon after solving the technical issues.
Ram Hari Adhikari, a Kalanki local said, "Lack of uniformity has taken away the beauty and neatness of the road," adding that dividers are scattered all along the road, haphazardly, leaving commuters vulnerable to accidents. With an objective of making Nagdhunga-Kalanki road section green and beautiful, dividers were created to separate the lane. However, those dividers were placed randomly, making the road look messy and untidy.
When inquired about this, DoR Chief Thapa said the contractor ran away without completing the task.
The road which links the rest of the country to the capital city has not even maintained minimum road safety standards, including installation of lights, reflectors among others.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Urban Development Spokesperson, Joint-Secretary Krishna Prasad Dawadi said, "The ministry has given clear instructions to the concerned stakeholders for the construction of disability-friendly structures across the country."
Seen below are pictures that show the conditions of roads and infrastructures in and around Kathmandu valley.