Roads cover only 7.72 per cent of municipal area in Kathmandu

Kathmandu, December 15

Even though Kathmandu has a relatively high road density, roads cover only 7.72 per cent of total municipal area which is quite low, says the government.

According to New Urban Development Strategy published by the Ministry of Urban Development, the per cent of urban area covered by roads in other mega-cities in the world vary from seven per cent to 25 per cent. Setting up of standards and planning for roads as the city expands is therefore of critical importance.

“Established cities with road space below 10 per cent cannot aspire to reach 25 per cent. Road space of 12 per cent to 13 per cent is just good enough to serve basic mobility with some degree of congestions. In land pooled sites such as Gongabu and Saibu the road coverage is 17.5 per cent and 22.8 per cent respectively,” it said.

Road density is quite low in many municipalities irrespective of size. Less than a third of municipal roads are black-topped and very few municipalities have intra-city bus service. Meanwhile, it said that about half of all the road traffic accidents nationwide occur in Kathmandu Valley alone. Among other things, lack of pedestrian friendly features, non-compliance with traffic rules, unruly driving behaviour, poor roads and vehicular conditions, and lack of traffic infrastructures are the factors behind increasing rate of road traffic accidents.

The recent study ‘Nepal Road Safety Action Plan 2013-2020’ by the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport indicates that estimated economic loss from the road accidents in Nepal is at least Rs 2.7 billion annually or 0.4 per cent of GNP.

When under-reported accidents are accounted, the adjusted economic loss stands at 0.8 per cent of GNP annually. Increasing road traffic accidents have become a serious concern. Inadequate pedestrian safety features, including its design, standards, quality and enforcement remain a critical issue.

Maintenance of urban roads has always been a major issue in urban management. The municipality generally does not have adequate fund to regularly maintain roads or ensure proper drainage. The poor construction quality also has a significant bearing on the increased road maintenance requirement, it said.