Key road link to Mangalsen opened

Belkhet (Accham), May 21:

British Ambassador to Nepal Dr Andrew Hall and Minister of State for Local Development Navin Kumar Bishwokarma today jointly inaugurated the 50-km Belkhet-Mangalsen earthen road during a function at Belket in Accham.

They also opened a ferry service in Karnali river at Belkhet. The ferry service links Achham with Karnali Highway. Addressing the programme, Dr Hall said, “Nepali people deserve

kudos for making the CA election a success. They voted for both peace and development. Peace requires all parties and their cadres to obey the rule of law, and a sustainable peace requires development.”

He hoped that the parties could work together to build a government, which respects the mandate of the people in the CA and the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Accord and the interim constitution. “Constitution-making process and the development must be the new government’s top priorities,” he said, adding that health, education and roads were the top priorities of the poor people as well.

Though Mangalsen has other road link too, the road from Belkhet would cut the travel distance from Achham to Nepalgunj by almost 200 km or a whole day, thereby making it cheaper for the Achham locals to sell their goods. The UK Department of International Development (DFID) supported the construction of the road and GTZ provided technical support to it. The ferry was constructed at the cost of Rs 8 million and the Belkhet-Mangalsen road at the cost of Rs 262 million with local participation.

Dr Hall said no bulldozer and high explosives were used to construct the road, and the local people were mobilised to build it.

State Minister Bishwokarma said the road would help address the social and geographical exclusion in Nepal. Connecting hill areas right across Nepal by building mid-hill roads is an important government priority, he said, asking the donor agencies to continue their support to build a New Nepal.

DFID Rural Access Programme (RAP) has been constructing roads in Achham, Doti, Dailekh, Sankhuwasabha, Khotang, Bhojpur and Tehrathum districts. A press statement issued by DFID said 673 km of roads have been constructed and upgraded in these districts. The Rs 5 billion programme began in 2001 and will end in June this year. The statement said over one million people have benefited from the new rural roads linked with the district feeder roads.

Secretary at the Local Development Ministry Ganga Datta Awasthi said the road would bring about a lot of opportunities to the local people who do not have to rely on mule train to ferry their essential goods now onwards. He hoped the local people would also switch to cash crop and fruit farming besides the traditional agriculture to improve the condition of their living.

Locals who took part in the construction of the roads said they needed help from donors and government to enhance their skills in cash crop, fruit and vegetable farming.