Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director for Nepal Arnaud Cauchois has paid a visit to the Narayangadh- Butwal section of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Improvement Project (SRIP) to take stock of the current status of the construction amid concerns of delays.
The visit also included meetings with ministers of economic affairs and cooperatives and physical infrastructure development of Lumbini province, Mayor of Butwal Sub-metropolitan City, senior government officials, and local authorities, according to a press statement issued by ADB, Nepal.
“The road construction and maintenance work has picked up pace in the recent months, but clearly it needs to be expedited further,” remarked Cauchois. “I had constructive meetings with the project team, consultants, and contractors, and I am hopeful whatever issues remain in terms of managing resources and construction materials will be resolved soon.”
During the meetings, Cauchois also emphasised on the urgency to complete the construction of bridges before the onset of the monsoon in places where the original bridges were damaged or destroyed by last year’s floods.
He also discussed improving road maintenance, better traffic management, and deploying better road diversions to avoid traffic congestions as the roads are being constructed and upgraded.
He was accompanied by Project Director of SRIP Sushil Babu Dhakal, and other staff of the Department of Roads. Cauchois visited four bridge construction sites, crusher plant sites, batching plant site, labour and contractor camp sites, among others.
“This stretch of the road once upgraded is expected to bring economic benefits by providing better access to local and regional markets and making movements of goods and people easier,” said Cauchois. “Further delays are unacceptable, and everyone involved must work together to complete this strategic road network on agreed schedule.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the work to some extent. And delays in tree felling and shifting of electric poles also hindered the work progress,” Dhakal said. “But now these issues have been almost resolved, and we have asked the contractors to accelerate construction work and deploy all their resources to make up for the lost time.”
The project, financed by ADB, is upgrading 154 kilometres (km) of Nepal’s strategic road network (113 km of the East–West Highway) and improving the Nepal’s domestic and regional transport connectivity.