Locals today obstructed Betini Bhanjyang-Patana Bhanjyang-Ghurmi road stretch along the Siddhicharan Highway seeking upgradation of the road in Udayapur.

Citing the years of apathy on the part of the authority concerned with regard to road maintenance, irate locals decided to obstruct the highway until their demands were addressed.

They have formed a struggle committee for the same.

Meanwhile, with the obstruction of the road section, hundreds of vehicles and passengers have been stranded.

Ward 11c Chair Dipak Budha of Katari Municipality, who also chairs the Siddhicharan Highway Struggle Committee, sought a guarantee of fund allocation for upgradation of the road in the upcoming budget.

Further, he voiced the locals' demands that a separate project office be set up to look into problems seen along Siddhicharan Highway. He also demanded that the damaged road be repaired soon to allow smooth vehicular movement.

The highway built by the Nepali Army 26 years ago has been damaged at many places.

Some 46-km stretch from Katari to Ghurmi has now turned into a dusty road riddled with potholes after its blacktopped layer peeled off.

And, as the road condition deteriorates, more accidents have taken place, causing loss of lives.

"Many a time, we led delegations to the capital to inform the people and office concerned there about the condition of the road and need to upgrade it, but to no avail, that's why we had to resort to tough measures," said NC Udayapur Secretary Ram Kumar Rai.

"Thirty years have passed since its construction, but the road has not been repaired much. The road is damaged in such a manner that it's difficult to operate even one-way traffic these days," he added.

Lahan Division Road Office Engineer Subas Datta, who is a site in-charge for the Siddhicharan Highway, said the centre had released 300 million rupees for maintenance of the road. "We got the budget just a month ago. As the tender process has been completed, work will start in just a few days."

A version of this article appears in the print on April 20, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.