EDITORIAL: Work delayed

Coordination among all agencies are vital is to complete projects on time. But this coordination in Nepal has always been elusive

The long delays in road expansion in the Kathmandu Valley have been an often-cited case of the government’s non-performance, past or present.

Tons of paper have been wasted on calling for prompt reconstruction of the roads dug up and left in a messy state, causing problems of accidents and health hazards, as well as daily inconvenience to the people, whether on foot or on wheels.

This kind of mess has been left not just on the Boudha-Jorpati section but also on a number of other sections. Some stretches of roads that have been reconstructed had also been left in a messy state; potholes, uneven spots and other damaged parts are everywhere.

To take the case of the Boudha-Jorpati stretch, many orthopedic patients go to the well-known orthopedic hospital based at Narayantar for treatment, and what the uneven jolting road section means for them needs no explanation, let alone the daily inconveniences caused to the rest of the people using that road section.

According to hospital officials, an ambulance that would take ten minutes or so to reach a patient from Chabahil to the hospital may now take even two hours because of the bad state of that stretch.

One of the blunders committed by the authorities was to open up the roads, making them impassable for vehicles, without reconstructing the dug-up sections on time.

The roads were dug up for various purposes, particularly for widening them, laying pipes for Melamchi drinking water, and laying new pipes for sewerage.

In the road expansion work, the government has not been able to take the locals into confidence in some places or to act resolutely, thus also contributing to work delays because of obstructions from them.

The tendency of property owners on the sides of the roads would naturally be to protect their property, and they would want the road projects to go on without taking away any of their land.

The bad state of the roads also means traffic jams and pollution, apart from its other evils, from which the denizens of the Kathmandu Valley have been suffering for the past three years or so, at some stretches less and at others more.

Work stoppages due to festivals like Dashain, Tihar and Chhath have also added to the delays and one or another hitch that comes up has also made matters worse.

Meanwhile, regarding the Boudha-Jorpati and in other sections, the Department of Roads has announced that preparations are being made to relocate the electricity and telephone poles along the roadsides.

Obviously several agencies are involved in the task. Coordination between them is vital if the work is to proceed smoothly and to be completed on time.

But this coordination in Nepal has always been elusive, not only in the road expansion projects but in many other projects and programs, thereby causing excessive delays and cost overruns.

The Kathmandu Valley Road Improvement Project has started expansion of the 53 km of the road segments.

The parliamentary Development Committee recently directed the government to expand and upgrade several road sections in the valley by the end of the current fiscal year. But that does not seem likely to be realized.

Passing the buck has also been a pastime of those in authority.

Cardamom farming

The fall in the price of cardamom has the farmers all worried. At one time this was grown mostly in the eastern region but now it is being cultivated throughout the country.

The scale of transaction of cardamom is Rs. 10 billion annually which is a hefty amount. This was one of the major exports.

Cardamom which was produced was sold last year for a substantial amount, as much as Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 83,000 per man (around 36 kilogrames) fetch the farmers only Rs. 56,000 to Rs. 60,000 this year.

It appears the market for this commodity has declined in India. Cardamom is divided into three categories and then priced accordingly.

Because of this debacle farmers are beginning to wonder if they should be cultivating this cash crop or something else to gain more profit.

It seems that it is not wise to depend on a single market for exports. Many farmers particularly in the eastern region have started commercial farming and had made a handsome profit in the past.

As the livelihood of many farmers depend on this cash crop it would be fitting to find more markets in other countries besides India.