TOPICS: Transport to development

Nepal has a fragile topography. Road transport is an important sector of economic activity and investment compared to other sectors.

Nepal has an agriculturally based economy. Road transport is playing an essential role in marketing agricultural production.

Similarly, road infrastructure is vital for giving access to health, education and agricultural extension services in respect of the distributions of agricultural inputs.

The two major axes of the strategic road network are the East-West Highway in the Terai and the North-South connection (Tribhuvan, Prithvi and Araniko Highways).

Among these highways, the Araniko Highway connects Tibet Autonomous Region of China with Kathmandu.

The Sindhuli Road of about 159 km under the Japanese aid has set up a new link from Kathmandu to the Terai. Growth of traffic intensity and a road construction and maintenance boom have been common characteristics of past achievements in road transport of Nepal.

The newly established railway department needs to gather speed for the development of railway networks in our country. Nepal has only one international airport, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), for air transport.

This airport also needs a lot of improvement. We have many domestic airports to serve air traffic within the country.

Pavements and road structure are liable to be damaged due to a pronounced tendency to overload vehicles plying on roads. Such damage is also due to unpredictable rainfall and natural calamities.

In Nepal, insufficient importance is given to rural road network. The lack of systematic and appropriate road maintenance is mainly a result of a lack of funds as and when needed and of a developed maintenance organization.

Nowadays, due attention has been given to the importance of systematic monitoring, network evaluation and regular maintenance works.

In the present context, the condition of the road network needs to be improved as the existing roads are rapidly deteriorating and more and more attention has to be given to the road maintenance and conservation.

The donors such as World Bank, ODA, SDC and UNDP are supporting in this sector. Our government has taken efforts to assure the funding of the future maintenance works. Reliable transport is based on proper road maintenance.

Also pavement condition is related to Vehicle Operating Cost (VOC). Road improvements and accessibility promote rural industrialization and socio-economic integration, thereby resulting in stimulation of the economy.

Timely and appropriate maintenance can slow the rate of deterioration and delay the need for major, expensive repairs like reconstruction.