EDITORIAL: Road to nowhere
Many road sections dug up for the expansion purposes in the Kathmandu Valley are still in a state of disrepair, with various unpleasant consequences
Now, as we are in the middle of the dry season the capital’s roads are getting increasingly polluted because of the dust. Maybe the comparatively fewer number of vehicles that are plying is a blessing in disguise. This is due to the shortage of fuel. However, most of the roads in the heart of the city are in disarray as the expansion drive to widen the roads is continuing lethargically but all construction activities are halted in many places of the roads as a result of which debris lie by the street making it difficult for both the pedestrians and commuters in vehicles. The problem posed by the dust is one of the leading causes of the respiratory diseases. Last year was particularly awful to those using the road as well as residents near such roads because of the dust raised by passing vehicles. Pollution reached a record of sorts and wearing a mask was essential although it afforded little protection from the vehicular emissions as well. This year we have already had to cope with the slush during the rainy season. Moreover, we had witnessed a surge in the number of vehicular accidents due to the poor condition of the roads.
The road expansion drive is facing many hurdles because of the contractors responsible for widening and blacktopping of roads not working as per contract citing various reasons. One of these is that the locals are protesting this drive. It is even alleged that some crafty politicians are encouraging such drives by inciting the locals. It is indeed not possible to reimburse all those whose houses and walls had to be brought down and also lost their land to be provided with compensation. However, it is being mooted to make arrangement to provide such for those who have been affected by the criteria set by the government after the year 2031 B.S. But all those who have encroached on public land to build houses should have their buildings dismantled so that the contractors can get on with their work which is not the case now. Instigating illegal owners of the houses to hold protests should, therefore, not be tolerated.
So, out of the government’s plans to extend 150 kilometers of the roads in the capital valley only 57 kilometers have been completed so far, which is well below the target set initially. Many of these roads such as the one between Tinkune to Kalanki has seen all construction halted because the contractors have asked for more money. This is indeed not permissible. No doubt, many irregularities are taking place in the distribution of the money to the contractors and also owners of houses built on encroached land. Meanwhile, if the government was to pay all the amount that has to be reimbursed it would not have sufficient amount for it in the budget. This calls for some thinking. Therefore, the government and the contractors as well as those whose houses were dismantled in the road expansion construction drive should exercise restraint and allow them to build the roads. Many road sections dug up for the expansion purposes in the Kathmandu Valley are still in a state of disrepair, with various unpleasant consequences. High priority should therefore be given to reconstructing them.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has come up with a grandiose plan to make the capital city sustainable and resilient. According to the plan the KMC will introduce electric and larger public vehicles, construct multi-storey and underground buildings to provide enough space for vehicles to park. For this the KMC will launch a land pooling and house pooling schemes. It also envisages developing an international standard bus park, encourage denizens to install solar panels on their rooftop to bring an end to the perennial energy crisis. It will also introduce a programme under which electricity will be generated using the waste materials.
These are some of the plans which will, if well implemented, transform the chaotic city into a better place to live in. Due to heavy concentration of vehicles and other commercial activities within the 650 square kilometers, the air quality of the bowl-shaped valley is also below the standard as set by World Health Organization. We have no dearth of people in the helm of affairs to make flamboyant plans. But when it comes to implementing them they are always behind schedule. It is advisable to select plans that can be implemented according to plan.