KATHMANDU, 28 OCT 2014Â – Bad roads continue to be a hindrance to safe, accessible, affordable and sustainable transportation in the country even though the road network has been greatly expanded over the years, experts said on Monday.
The countryâ€™s strategic road network has swollen to 12,494 km while the total length of rural roads stands at 52,023 km, according to the Department of Roads. Likewise, local governments have been involved in constructing roads in rural areas, but only 55 percent of them are in a usable condition, said experts.
â€œThe road network in Nepal is not something we can be proud of as there are so many challenges and problems associated with it,â€ said Bimalendra Nidhi, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport, speaking at a workshop on Sustainable and Inclusive Transport Development in the Capital on Monday.
â€œThe government is focussing on developing a transport system that provides affordable and reliable service to passengers in an environmentally sound and equitable manner,â€ he added. The growing number of fatal road accidents has been blamed on poor transportation management and bad road conditions.
The substandard road infrastructure has also remained as one of the hindrances to increasing private sector investment in the country.
Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, admitted that the governmentâ€™s focus so far had been on expanding the road network in order to provide access to as many people as possible. â€œWe failed to pay adequate attention to quality which has raised a serious question whether our roads are safe and sustainable,â€ he said.
Experts said that attracting private sector investment in road infrastructure could help in improving the quality of Nepalâ€™s roads. There has been hardly any investment from the private sector in building highways so far. An effort has been made from the private sector to construct a Kathmandu -Hetauda tunnel road.
National Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Govinda Raj Pokharel said increased investment from the private sector in roads would lead to the construction of quality highways. â€œEfforts have been made to involve the private sector in the proposed Kathmandu -Tarai Fast Track road,â€ he added. He said that transport and mobility were central to the economic development of any country.
Speaking at the workshop, other experts said that an integrated and comprehensive approach in planning was necessary to ensure a sustainable transport system.