Bibek Subedi, The Kathmandu Post, 6 April 2018
The Department of Roads has asked the World Bank for financial assistance to build 14 bridges on the Muglin-Narayanghat road, which is the Kathmandu Valley’s key supply line and one of the busiest routes in the country.
The department is in talks with the multilateral lender for a Rs2 billion loan to build the bridges. The 36.16-km north-south road links Prithvi Highway and the East-West Highway near their midway points. The planned new bridges will be constructed alongside the existing bridges to match the increased width of the road, which is currently being upgraded from single lane to double lane.
Senior officials of the Roads Department and representatives of the World Bank made a visit to the project site recently. “We will be holding negotiations with the bank for financial assistance, and we are planning to conclude them by the end of this fiscal year,” said Sanjay Kumar Shrestha, chief of the Foreign Cooperation Branch at the department. “Once the required funding is arranged, we will complete the design and the construction of the bridge within a year.”
There are altogether 18 bridges on the Muglin-Narayanghat road. The Roads Department has started building new bridges alongside four bridges. The construction of 14 other bridges will begin after the World Bank provides the loan.
The department has completed 85 percent of the Muglin-Narayanghat road upgradation project. The first layer of black topping has been laid on 27 km of the road, and the second layer has been laid on 24 km. Similarly, the third layer of black topping has been laid on around 4 km of the road so far.
Another 3 km is ready to receive the first layer of black topping, according to Shiva Khanal, the spokesperson for the project. The project office is carrying out construction work like building retention walls and land cutting and filling, among others on the remaining 3.2 km of the road.
The project is yet to complete one of the difficult tasks, which is cutting away part of a rocky hill along 300 metres of the road. The project office has said it will complete the upgradation work by the end of May, the recently set deadline by the department.
The Narayanghat-Muglin Road carries the heaviest traffic in the country, accounting for 90 percent of Nepal’s total international trade traffic. More than 20,000 vehicles ply the highway daily.
The upgradation project, which is being implemented with a Rs3 billion aid package from the World Bank, will improve and expand a 33.2-km section of the Narayanghat-Muglin road to Asian Highway standard and address road safety, axle load control and environmental sustainability issues along the trade corridor.