Kathmandu, November 20
After bearing with dust and smoke for years, shopkeepers and other traders from Chabahil area finally pulled down their shutters today and halted vehicular movement along the Chabahil-Bouddha road segment to protest against the inordinate delay in black-topping the road section.
Hundreds of agitating shopkeepers took to the street, after they came to know that the road section in Chabahil area wouldn’t be black-topped any time soon. Earlier, contractors had ensured that they would complete the remaining work of road construction within a few weeks.
Locals and traders from Chabahil to Bouddha have been facing difficulties caused by dust and smoke for more than four years.
A few months ago, the government and political leaders had given ultimatum to the contractors to complete the construction on time. Following this, road construction work had gained momentum and the contractor has set the deadline of December 2 to complete the work.
However, government authorities recently asked the contractor to blacktop only the eight-metre wide mid-segment of the road and leave the five-metre segment on either side of the road as it was. The government’s decision has not only shattered the hopes of local people for breathing fresh air, but infuriated them.
Dev Bajracharya, local activist and trader, said, “The contractors are yet to start the project. It means that they will demand at least 15 months time to complete it. But, we seriously doubt it will be completed in 15 months.”Deepak Chaulagain another businessman in the area, said, “The government may have hundreds of excuses, but we won’t bear with dust and smoke anymore. We want the area to be dust-free.”
Government authorities directed United Builders and Engineering Pvt Ltd not to blacktop the entire width of the road section as they had to replace the age-old water pipelines laid underneath the road section.
Kathmandu Road Division Office and Melamchi Drinking Water Project had jointly started a new project of replacing the existing pipelines of Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited with new ones.
Biswo Bijay Lal Shrestha, spokesperson for Kathmandu Valley Road Improvement Project, a responsible body for monitoring the Chabahil-Bouddha road area said that they had agreed to blacktop the mid segment, after it was found necessary to manage the pipelines laid underneath the road section.
Bhoj Bikram Thapa, acting project director of Melamchi Sub-project 2, Project Implementation Directorate said that 20-inch pipelines would be laid from Gausala to Chabahil area to supply water from Melamchi Drinking Water Project. He said that the Melamchi office was unaware of the project status as the project was overlooked by Kathmandu Road Division Office.
Meanwhile, Shreedhar Prasad Dev, site engineer representing United Builders, said that they were ready to blacktop the entire road segment if the government wanted them to do so.