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Govt urges contractors to expedite road construction

REPUBLICA

KATHMANDU, April 21: While the government has blacktopped only 15 kilometers of road in the last six months, the government officials have claimed that 90 percent of road construction in all 65 road sections of the road network that is being expanded in Kathmandu and Lalitpur would be completed within the running fiscal year.

The officials have claimed that more than 9 km road construction would be over in first week of May and additional 24 km would be blacktopped by mid-May, according to Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW).

The Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority (KVTDA) is carrying out road expansion along more than 130 km road that were encroached. The road expansion campaign was launched in August 2011 to ease the increasing traffic congestion in the Valley.

The Kathmandu Road Division Office had said that telephone and electricity cables would be set underground during the re-construction and above ground electricity poles would be done away with.

Chief of Kathmandu Town Development Authority Bhai Kaji Tiwari, however, said that the delay in installing electricity poles and laying down water supply pipes were slowing down rebuilding of the roads.

Govt officials on regular inspection

Amid growing complaints from public about the delay in the construction of roads in Kathmandu and Lalitpur, a monitoring team led by the secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister and Minister´s Council has been making regular visits to the construction sites to keep a tab on the progress. The Chairman of the Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi has also instructed the government officials responsible for construction to complete the work as soon as possible.

The leader of the government´s monitoring team, Krishna Hari Banskota, who is the secretary of the office of the prime minister, has asked contractors to speed up construction work on the Airport-Tinkune-Maitighar road section with more priority.

Govt wants private buildings to maintain aesthetics

While the Ministry of Urban Development plans to revive greenery along city roads once they are blacktopped, the new private buildings that are to be built on the expanded areas should add to the green environment, said Banskota during his inspection visits.

After construction of roads, the government would turn its focus on constructing traffic islands and overhead bridges, said Kishor Thapa, secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).

Widened area turns into parking lot

While the Kathmandu Road Division has graveled some of the extended areas, many of those areas are strewn with dug out drainage pipes, uprooted electricity poles and cables. The vehicle users have been randomly parking vehicles at the expanded areas. However, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division has said that they are finding it tough to control the encroachment as the construction work goes on.

First disabled-friendly road

The government officials announced in the initial phase of road expansion that construction of roads along the expanded section would be done considering the problems faced by disabled people. However, the authorities seem to have abandoned that plan later.

Egged on by the National Disabled Federation and Independent Living Center Advocacy, the government for the first time agreed to construct a disabled-friendly road for the convenience of visually impaired and persons with other forms of disabilities.

Disabled-friendly roads are built to aid visually impaired, wheelchair users and persons with various disabilities to move on their own.

The Khagendra Disabled Friendly Road Campaign Implementation Committee, formed to pressurize the government to build disabled-friendly roads has several times staged protests demanding the government to construct disabled-friendly roads.

The first disabled-friendly road will be built on the two sides along the 2 km main road stretching between the main gate of Nepal Disabled Association and Narayantar-Jorpati intersection.

It will be constructed with assistance of various organizations, donor agencies and general public. The government has earlier assured the physically challenged community to allocate 60 percent of the total construction cost on building disabled-friendly road.

Source: Republica Daily
Published on 2013-04-21 07:00:41

Frail Valley bridges pose a bottleneck in road expansion efforts

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, Feb 14: While the government has widened the encroached roads in the Kathmandu Valley, it is finding the task of constructing new bridges and maintaining the old ones quite challenging.

The Department of Roads has enlisted 26 bridges as important for expanding the road networks of the Valley.

However, bridges with just two lanes have proven incapable to ease the flow of increasing number of vehicles in the capital.

The DoR officials say that the government must carry out a detailed survey before expanding the bridges. According to Madhav Karki, chief at the Bridge section of DoR, some 17 bridges, which are already in dire need of maintenance, may get weaker if constructions are undertaken without proper survey.

“The lifespan of existing infrastructures may get shortened if we begin constructions without consulting internationally recognized experts,” said Karki.

Chief of the Kathmandu Development Authority Bhai Kaji Tiwari said that the two lane bridges have become a bottleneck at a time when the roads are expanded to six lanes to adjust to the increase in vehicular movement.

He added that the DoR has proposed the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority to expand the Bagmati Bridge and Dhobikhola Bridge along the Koteshwar-Maitighar road section. However, the deal is yet to get finalized.

In 2009, the DoR and the Kathmandu Road Division Office launched a joint survey to check the status of the bridges in the Valley. The survey found the bridges at Balkhu Ring Road, Tribhuvan Rajpath, Bishnumati, Balaju, Sinamangal, Dhobi Khola, Seto Pul and Shobha Bhagawati in a dire need of attention.

The office had also completed the tender process for the maintenance of the bridges at an estimated cost of Rs 35 million. Building cut off walls, check dams, abutments and filling the sand-extracted areas were major works the office aimed to carry out.

However, the project could not be implemented as the Ministry of Finance failed to allocate the necessary budget to the DoR. “In lack of budget it has become impossible to undertake periodic maintenance of bridges,” said Karki, adding, “Though the government has shown some seriousness after the collapse of the Sinamangal bridge, repairing bridges still does not fall under priority because the problems with bridges are not as readily visible as that of roads.”

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´Bridges constructed before the 80s may not last a 100 years as is expected´

Purna Kadariya
Former Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works

Bridge construction is an important part of the effort to expand transportation network. The technical aspects cannot be compromised if we want to build strong bridges.

While laying the foundation, technicians must go through a detailed survey of soil quality. It is hard to guarantee that the bridges built in Nepal until 1980 were constructed keeping all aspects in mind as there was dearth of both skilled manpower and equipments at the time.

Today, the foundation of many bridges are exposed. It is a bad sign for their stability. The Sankhamul bridge is its perfect example. In such situation, expanding bridges becomes a sensitive task as their foundations need to be made stronger before the expansion.

The problem of traffic rules violations is another serious aspect that contributes to weakening of the bridges. The standard criteria for the Valley bridges is that a vehicle traveling on one side of the bridge must not weigh more than 10 tons. But at present, even the heavy lorries of 50 to 60 tons capacity are seen crossing the bridges.

Besides, the government lacks the resources to monitor the status of the bridges and reports are prepared based on naked-eye observations.

Excessive scour can cause unequal settlement of foundation or leave part of the structure unsupported causing structural failure. Bridges at Balaju, Seto Pul, Gopikrishna, Gongabu Buspark and Balkhu Ring Road are among those which have developed cracks at the foundation.

The ground under these bridges has sunk few meters due to sand mining. Though the Self Governance Act 1999 authorizes the District Development Committees and the Village Development Committees to control illegal sand extraction, the local administration itself is involved in extraction of sand and crushed pebbles from rivers as they receive huge amount of revenue by exporting the minerals to India.

The bridges at Balkhu and Dhobi Khola are also facing embankment slope failure. Rapid and unplanned development in the city has also encroached on the territory of rivers, which leads to deepening of riverbed level.

People´s tendency to urinate at bridges leads the iron bar and railings to rust.

These issues must be dealt with seriously as constructing a bridge can cost Rs 60 million to billions.

Source: Republica Daily

Link: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=49940

Published on 2013-02-14 07:02:48

Sinamangal bridge to be ready by March next year

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, Feb 13: A loud bang at 2 am roused the locals of Sinamangal from their deep slumber on March 28, 2009. The locals felt their buildings shake. They did not dare to venture out immediately thinking it was a bomb blast. Nobody even tried to open their windows to look out. Then, at around 4, another blast rocked the area.

The locals discovered later in the morning that the bridge built over the Bagmati River at Bhimsengola had collapsed. The bridge, built in 1966, was estimated to last for 100 years.

But the rampant sand extraction from the river led to the weakening of the bridge´s plinth, causing distortion in the middle. As a result, the 40-meter bridge became useless in less than half of its expected lifespan.

Dharma Lama, 52, a resident of Sinamangal, says that the damage had caused great inconvenience to the locals and others who used the bridge every day to go to other places.

At the time, the construction of the road network that formed Bagmati corridor had already been under way.

Thousands of commuters and motorists faced difficulties as all the vehicles coming from Old Baneshwar, Buttishputali and east of Sinamangal were diverted to the ring-road.

The officials of the Kathmandu Division Office of the Department of Roads visited the site the following day and concluded that the bridge was beyond repair and constructing a new bridge was the only solution.

Again in 2011, a portion of the Bagmati corridor road near the site, where a new bridge linking Sinamangal with Tilganga was being constructed, collapsed.

The officials at the DoR Kathmandu division say that heavy water flow in the Bagmati swept away the road even as the construction of a foundation for the new bridge.
The heavy water flow during the bridge construction weakened the road´s foundation and led to its collapse.

The damage disrupted traffic along 1.5 km road between Old Baneshwar and Tilganga.

Pedestrian´s movement, too, was restricted fearing possible rupture as the land over which the road was built developed multiple cracks. The road was repaired and brought into operation in a week.

Though the Bagmati corridor is in operation at present, the traffic flow along Sinamangal, Gaushala and Old Baneshwar routes get affected when the temporary diversion at Bhimsengola becomes vulnerable during the rainy season as the water level rises in the river.

Though the DoR earlier estimated that the new bridge would come into operation by the end of 2011, completing the work still remains a challenge, officials say.
Officials now hope to complete the construction work by the end of March next year.

We are committed to complete the project soon, says Engineer Dipendra Pandey, in charge of the construction project. The DoR is spending Rs 77 million for the reinforced cement concrete bridges.

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INTERVIEW

´Sand mining has posed long term threat for Sinamangal Bridge and locals´

Dipendra Pandey
Engineer
In charge of the Sinamangal Bridge Construction Project

The construction has not been easy the second time as well. What went wrong?
Following the rampant sand extraction by the squatters residing near the banks of the river, the infrastructure got weak at its base and the bridge collapsed just in 43 years though it was meant to last 100 years.

Before constructing the second bridge, the soil investigation should have been done in more detail. The then official designed the bridge on the basis of the soil survey at Gairidhara, which later proved to be a blunder. The soil is less qualitative to absorb water. As a result, the flood in the river swept away the pillars of the under-construction bridge.

Is the new bridge safe now?
The 9.5 meters wide bridge has one meter footpath on either side. It is the “A” class type which has the capacity to carry 80 ton weight. However, several collapses in the construction sites in the last three years has left us in doubt about its sustainability. The 25 meters long temporary diversion bridge constructed in 2010 collapsed due to soil erosion in rainy season. Similarly, another diversion built over the river is also on the verge of collapse.

Why does the government take no action against the illegal sand extractors?
The DoR itself cannot punish the wrongdoers. We have to seek help of the Metropolitan Police and the District Administration Office. We were unaware about the sand extraction before 2009. The locals should have been proactive in complaining to the authority earlier which would have prevented the damage.

Do other bridges in the capital face similar problem?
The bridge over the Bagmati linking Thapathali with Kupondole had collapsed in the past due to same reason. But later it was built along with several cut off walls that would support the pillars and channel the water flow in the rainy season. Same technique was applied while constructing the Kalimati and Tinkune bridges. Similarly, the bridges along Bishnumati corridor area are also safe now.

Sinamangal Bridge Fact file

  • Built in 1966 targeting for 100 years
  • Collapsed in 2009 due to illegal sand extraction
  • 25 meters long temporary diversion bridge collapsed in 2010
  • Flood in Bagmati sweeps away portion of road near the construction site of a new bridge in April 2011
  • Government targets to complete a new 40 meters long, 9.5 meters wide bridge in March next year
Source: Republica Daily

Link: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=49856

Published on 2013-02-13 07:00:38

President’s carcade obstructs traffic

REPUBLICA

KATHMANDU, Dec 24

Common people heading to their destinations were left high and dry in the wake of President Ram Baran Yadav´s visit to India on Monday.

Vehicular movement came to a grinding halt and the traffic was reduced to a crawl at several places because of the diversions and barricades put in place to ensure safe passage for the president´s carcade.

Hundreds of people were stuck in jams even as many others were kept waiting at traffic signals at Koteshwar, New Baneshwar, Old Buspark.

“I have been waiting since one and half hours for a bus to Bhaktapur. People say the vehicles have been stopped on the way,” said Sharmila Basnet, who was in town to buy stuffs for her shop in Sallaghari.

According to MTPD spokesperson Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Pawan Giri, the vehicles passing through Shital Niwas, Gairidhara, Nagpokhari, Putalisadak, were cleared an hour before the president´s carcade was scheduled to leave at 2.10pm.

Similarly, the vehicles heading toward Tinkune-Gaushala-Chabahil and those toward New Baneshwar-Babarmahal-Ratnapark from Balkumari road section of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur were stopped at Koteshwar Chowk for half an hour to clear the road section between New Baneshwar and Airport, informed Giri.

“The diversions added pressure on the entire traffic system of the capital although around 1000 traffic personnel were deployed on the day,” said DSP Giri.

Source: Republica Daily
Published on 2012-12-24 23:15:31