New technique to replace gravel roads

Kathmandu, May 17:

To reduce cost in maintenance and ensure reliable road access to a larger population, the Department of Roads has been planning to introduce ottaseal surfacing as an alternative for gravel roads.

The department, with assistance from the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation, organised a workshop-cum-training programme course on ottaseal surface that concluded today to familiarise road engineers with the technology. A relatively new technology, ottaseal is claimed to be a cost-cutting technology which is far better than conventional chip seal (gravel) in terms of life cycle, cost and comfort.

“We can cut down life cycle costs by 30 to 40 per cent in ottaseal surfacing,” deputy director general of Department of Road, Kamal Raj Pandey, said. According to him, of the total 17,000 km road length, only 42 per cent road is concrete asphalt. The department annually spends a billion rupees for the maintenance of the roads. “We need a better approach to cut down construction costs to save in the maintenance of the roads as well as for the expansion of the road network,” said project manager Hari Prasad Dhakal.

Originally developed in Norway in 1960, it was first used in Otta valley Norway, from where the name was derived. It was extensively used in Africa and Scandinavian countries. In Nepal, only Gorusinghe to Shandhikharka (68 km) and Tansen-Tamghas (20 km) has

been constructed with this technology. It uses graded aggregate with soft binder suitable to low volume roads and thus is considered cost effective. So far, the department is heavily dependent on the bilateral donor assistance in the construction and maintenance of roads. For carrying out this project, too, the department will have to rely on foreign assistance.