Mid-Hill Highway/File Photo
KATHMANDU: The construction works of the Mid-Hill Highway have come to a halt when the contractor who was awarded the contract for blacktopping the Baglung-Akshyate-Ghodabandhe road section as part of the national pride project is out of contact.
Blacktopping of around 12-km road section has become uncertain when the chief of the contract awardee, Shrestha Construction and Transport Service, Ramkaji Shrestha has remained out of contact for over a month.
It may be noted that Surya Construction had won the contract for the road blacktopping in the fiscal year 2072/73 BS.
Later, the Shrestha Construction Company took responsibility for blacktopping from the earlier Company.
But as of now, Shrestha has not completed half of the work. Locals have been fed up with the dust and mud on the road for no blacktopping on time.
Surprisingly, it has been over 25 years since the track of the highway – a lifeline for the folks of Baglung was opened.
Likewise, a decade has already elapsed since the contract signing was made with the construction company for blacktopping.
Blacktopping has not progressed anymore which put the road section in shambles.
Harilal Kandel, a local, said people here are compelled to migrate to other areas due to dust and mud.
The houses along the roadsides have been covered with dust in the winter and mud in the summer seasons, he added.
“Bihun is the pocket area for orange. Due to the messy road condition, orange production has been on the decline. The fruits in the tree are covered with dust. Such yields do not get the price in the market”, he complained.
Though the Baglung-Akshyate section has witnessed some progress, blacktopping has stagnated along the road stretching from Akshyate to Ghodabandhe.
Kandel said the present situation has resulted owing to State’s inability to take action against the contractors holding the construction works.
Former ward chairperson of Kathekhola Rural Municipality-5, Shiva Prasad Kandel shared that the mid-hill highway works have been put on hold when the contractor awarded for blacktopping has remained out of communications for over a month.
The contractor has turned its deaf ear to the demand of locals for completing the construction works, he added.
“We had repeatedly urged the local administration, highway office and contractor for road blacktopping when the entire community was on verge of migration en masse. But, no one has heeded the serious issue”, Kandel further shared.
The Baglung section merely covers 142 km out of the 1,776 km length of the mid-hill highway.
Out of the section, only a 12-km portion is to be blacktopped. The Mid-Hill highway office said the remaining 12-km would be blacktopped within coming mid-July, the office of the Mid-Hill Highway said.