Last month, a video uploaded by a CCTV went viral on social media. The video showed a man in a spacesuit walking across the lunar surface in a street of India. The person in the video, dressed as an astronaut, makes a moonwalk through the street covered with potholes in Hindustan. The main objective of the 45-second-long video was to raise awareness about the pathetic condition of roads.
This symbolic protest is relevant in the case of Kathmandu as well. Commuters in the valley have been facing similar problems for ages. The monsoon turns Kathmandu into mudmandu. However, the Kathmandu Valley Road Improvement Project does not seem to be bothered in improving the deplorable condition of the thoroughfares.
Every year, along with the arrival of the monsoon, all the roads in the valley turn into a muddy field as the contractor fails to repair them on time. It looks as if the roads are being prepared for transplanting paddy seedlings. Such poor condition of the highway is a hassle to the commuters. A couple of weeks ago, I was heading to my brother’s home in Balkot.
Unfortunately I could not make it to his house because my vehicle got stuck on the muddy road. Such badly troubled roads have ruined the capital’s image. It feels like punishment while walking on the streets of Kathmandu. The roads are maintained and repaired only when foreign presidents and prime ministers visit this country. Such practices have made us to believe that we can walk on clean and city like roads only when a foreign dignitary visits Kathmandu.
Due to lack of a contingent plan for the monsoon season, unplanned road construction and the municipality’s indifference, most of the roads in the capital are in poor shape. Such bad roads affect tourism as well and could lead to a decline in tourist numbers. Bad roads also make them prone to serious accidents. Disabled and elderly persons are especially affected by the pathetic condition of roads. Children and the residents of the capital have been facing this nuisance for years, with them falling in the rainwater-clogged ditches and potholes every now and then.
The local governments need to work strictly to address this issue. Contractors who fail to complete their task on time must be penalised. Road construction must be carried out in a planned manner, under proper supervision and in consultation with engineers.
A version of this article appears in print on November 12, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.