Manthali Airport black topping in limbo

Ramechhap, October 14

Black topping of Manthali Airport has been left in a lurch for the past eight months in Ramechhap.

Thousands of inbound and outbound Ramechhap dwellers have been deprived of air service as the project is nowhere near completion.

The delay in upgrading has mostly affected the elderly, pregnant women and patients of various diseases in need of emergency health services. Many such people have lost their lives owing to the lack of timely treatment for want of air transport.

Emergency flights, refuelling and other activities have also been halted as flights were cancelled owing to black-topping months ago. Local markets also have been adversely affected as local products could not be transported to Solukhumbu and other places due to the halt in cargo flights.

“Though the project was to be completed within 15 months, it has been in limbo even after 24 months,” said sources. The contract period has been extended to mid-December citing obstruction due to the April 25 earthquake.

Project Chief Yogendra Sharma, however, had argued that the upgrading work would be completed before Dashain festival. “The black topping was delayed due to the quake followed by monsoon,” claimed Sharma.

District Natural Disaster Rescue Committee had used the airport terminal to store and distribute relief materials after the earthquake.

The contractor of the project claimed that repair work was delayed due to disruption in supply of construction materials owing to the ongoing Tarai-Madhes unrest. As the airport is nearest from the capital city, it was used for emergency landing and parking of aircraft on hold.