Current Interim Road Plan Waits for Implementation
By Sharad K. Shrestha
Nepal has to depend only in road and air transport because the transportation is affected by the topographical condition. The long term vision should focus on safe, affordable, non-polluting transport services. The road projects in Nepal are giving high priority to new construction and less consideration in maintenance of the roads.
Total length of Strategic Road Network (SRN) in Nepal is about 11000 km and there are about1400 bridges. There is a network of about 14,293 km of local roads (including motor able tracks) in the country. The urban roads constitute about 2500 km by making the entire public road length as 28,740 km. Besides, there are about 12000 km of trails and 4200 nos. of trail bridges providing access to the rural people.
As mentioned earlier, during late 70’s and early 80’s new road construction got focus and maintenance got less priority. In 1988 the World Bank reported that the deterioration of roads in developing country was extensive due the facts as 15% of the capital invested in roads was eroded due to inadequate fund for maintenance; creating a need to rehabilitate and reconstruction requiring 3 to 4 times additional money due to delay in maintenance; for every new km built, 3km of existing road would be no more operable due to the lack of maintenance and for each unit of money not allocated for maintenance Vehicle Operating Cost (VOC) increased by 3 to 4 folds.
As the outcomes of the last plan, road expansion works attained remarkable achievements. Roads of total length 25133 Km were built. 73 districts now have road accessibility and an additional 1609 bridges came into operation. In view of managing and sustainable development in the road sector, strategic roads have been classified into national highways, feeder roads and strategic city – linking roads and local roads as district, urban and rural roads. The Tenth Year Road Plan (2007 – 2016) is being implemented for the construction and repair roads and bridges as required.
It has strategies to expand transport access for linking district headquarters and districts, extend access to agricultural, industrial, hydropower, tourism, education and health services. Finally, this plan has priority on the repair and maintenance of roads to safeguard road networks and ensure safe travel.
Current Interim Plan (FY 2013/14 – //static.apdnews.com/En_images/2015/16) has some operating policies. All the roads including the roads of national significance will be upgraded gradually and the road network will be extended to two remaining district headquarters. Roads will be developed, extended and the protection, repair, maintenance and management of road assets will be made more effective. Roads supporting important hydropower, irrigation, tourism and industrial projects and enhancing access to agricultural, education and health services and the postal highways will be constructed and upgraded. Investment under the public-private partnership model will be encouraged in order to develop commercially important roads. The expansion of ring roads taking place in Kathmandu and other major cities will be intensified.
The responsibility for the operation and maintenance of local roads has been delegated to local bodies. Local resources will be prioritized in constructing and repairing rural roads. The construction of the Mid – Hills Highway and Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track will be continued. Road networks will be expanded with the management of safe, environment-friendly and hindrance-free mass transportation to address urbanization pressure. Provisions will be made for the road constructor to repair it for a certain period.
The successful implementation of the current national plan or its outcomes would lead to the construction of 3000 Km of new roads, upgrading of 2100 Km of roads, erection of 310 strategic bridges and accessibility to all 75 district headquarters. Traffic management would be made more effective in order to reduce road accidents. This plan should be given due priority to achieve sustainable development on roads and promote national economy.