Progress in infrastructure sector found wanting

Over 72,000 road projects in limbo across the country. Their construction has not moved ahead due to lack of coordination among central, provincial and local govts

Kathmandu, May 27

Though the formation of a stable government was expected to expedite development works, the country has not been able to achieve the desired progress in infrastructure sector. Development of roads and bridges and other national pride projects has been dismal, according to the economic survey unveiled by the government today.

Presenting the economic survey of fiscal 2018-19 in the Parliament today, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada said the country was witnessing progress.

He cited examples of electricity being available round-the-clock and the growth in local level development.

“Indicators of economic, social and physical infrastructure development look exciting. The country is heading towards the path of high economic growth triggered by accelerated development,” he added.

As per the report, the total length of roads built in the country till mid- March of the current fiscal stands at 31,393 kilometres, which includes strategic roads and national highways. Of the total length, 14,102 km, or 44.9 per cent, has been blacktopped and 7,889 km, or 25.1 per cent, is partially blacktopped.

Thirty per cent of the roads — 9,410 km — are gravel roads. All the 76 district headquarters, except Humla, are linked with road network, adds the report.

The report states that in the review period the government was able to construct 934 km road that was blacktopped, 409 km that was partially blacktopped and 23 km that was gravelled. According to the report, the government was able to construct 87 bridges in the ongoing fiscal compared to 82 that were built in the last fiscal.

However, over 72,000 road projects are in limbo across the country, as their construction has not moved ahead for the last four months due to lack of coordination among the central, provincial and local governments. These projects are being built under the multi-year contract model, meaning work has been contracted out for more than a year. But, the economic survey report has not addressed this issue.

Meanwhile, the government has constructed 60,162 km roads at local levels. Of this, 6.5 per cent roads have been blacktopped, 21.9 per cent have been partially blacktopped and the remaining 71.6 per cent are gravel roads.

As per the report, the government has completed the detailed project report of the 945-km East- West Railway Link and has already completed the construction work of 41.6-km railway track. The report mentions that the Indian government has started work on the feasibility study of the Kathmandu-Birgunj electric railway project.

Construction work related to national pride projects, such as Pokhara Regional International Airport, Mid-Hill Highway and South-North Highway has been expedited, while work related to the construction of the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa will be completed by mid-July.

Meanwhile, the government has predicted an economic growth rate of seven per cent in the current fiscal 2018-19.