Nepalgunj Road Expansion Brings Broad Smiles

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NEPALGUNJ, 23 NOV 2014 – Ongoing expansion the 22.3km Nepalgunj -Kohalpur road has no doubt forced many local residents to lose their property, but they are looking forward to the opportunities it will bring. The road will have six lanes in the bazaar areas.

Among many advantages, the expanded road will reduce the time to reach Rupaidiya (bordering Indian town) from Kohalpur (along the East West highway) to 20 minutes from existing one and half hours due to traffic jam.

Traders say the road expansion would make Nepalgunj a trade hub that links 17 districts of the Mid- and Far-western Regions. “The expansion of the road into six lanes will play a crucial role in developing Nepalgunj as a trade hub,” said Devananda Aryal, treasurer of the Kohalpur Merchant Association.

Surrounding areas of Nepalgunj are also developing rapidly, attracting new residents and industries, due to the road expansion.

Of the 22.3km Ratna highway, 11.72-km Kohalpur-Chauraha section under the contract of Kalika Construction has been completed. “Kohalpur has now become a part of Nepalgunj due to the road link,” said Sagar Gaire, a local businessman.

“Kohalpur has witnessed significant changes after the completion of the road. A number of banks have started opening their branches and new hotels are coming.”

The locals have also raised Rs 6 million to set up street lights along the road.

Kalika Construction, which completed the stretch (at a cost of Rs 528.65 million) six months before the deadline of April 2015, plans to hand over the project to the Department of Roads within a year.

However, only 63.72 percent work on the remaining 10.5 km section from Jamunaha (Rupaidiya) to Chauraha has been completed, against the target of 73.47 percent, until mid-November. The Rs 527.35-million contract has been awarded to a joint venture of AMR India and Pappu Construction.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s consultant engineer Girish Chand said the project missed the target due to the shortage of construction materials during the January-March period. The ADB is the project’s financer.

In January, the Parliamentary Natural Resources and Means Committee had directed the government to halt extraction of sand and stones to prevent environmental degradation.

“However, the project still has six months to complete as per the contract,” Chand said, adding the delay in shifting electricity and telephone poles and water supply pipes also delayed the project.

The work started in March last year. Bhupendra Bhatta, procurement officer of ADB’s Sub-regional Transport Enhancement Project said the road upgradation is aimed at expanding the capacity of major international trade corridors to enable efficient transport. The Nepalgunj -Kohalpur road is among the six road projects totaling 217 km.

The Sub-regional Transport Enhancement project was approved by ADB on October 27, 2010, for $75.9 million. The project’s objective is to expand connectivity with remote areas and enhance the capacity of major international trade corridors to develop the economy of the areas as well as to integrate them more effectively with their primary markets in India, and further to third countries.

Source: eKantipur

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