Roads: The Economic Lifeline

road-under-construction

Information Technology has taken such a tremendous leap; we feel as if the world is getting confined in our palms. Every day, I wake up and get aware about various sectors making headlines, be it on the newspaper, online portals or social media.

Like every normal citizen of the nation, I get excited to hear the updates on development of infrastructures whereas I am saddened by the unimaginable incidents that occur due to lack of those infrastructures.  The tragic incidents due to lack of infrastructures cease to invade the happiness and I think profoundly, who is to be blamed for, regardless of being aware about who is guilty. Are we guilty or is it the incompetent government?

Development is a continuous process, the fact which we can’t deny but for the positive transformation, consistent development is essential which a crippled government is incapable of doing.

A significant foundation required for improvement to happen is undoubtedly road development. Roads are the arteries through which the economy pulses. By connecting manufacturers to business sectors, employees to employment, students to school, and the debilitated to hospitals, roads are indispensable to flourish the economy across every sector; agriculture, tourism and industry to name a few.

It is heartbreaking to know that women in Rolpa lose their life due to lack of access to proper health care and being unable to afford the sky-rocketing air fares. Locals at Bajura keep their lives at risk to cross the Budiganga River with the help of tuin that they installed themselves after the flooded river swept away the suspension bridges. One has to witness life or death situations while crossing the river at Jumla due to deteriorated road condition and bridges where each kilometer defines death. Deteriorated roads and improper transport in many regions of Nepal leads to overcrowded vehicles, where the atmosphere is grim with every passenger praying to God for safe voyage where the slightest error could be fatal. We haven’t succeeded in transporting the apples from Jomsom to the market, sell and have even distribution as to elevate the lifestyle of people at Jomsom, but are compelled to buy the imported goods at a higher price. The unpleasant truth that the individuals of Limpiyadhura, the purported region of Nepal, despite everything, need to use the way of another nation and the agony of living in a condition of being an outsider even in their own nation is maybe a lot for anybody to endure. Traveling extra miles to dig on to the roots of the problem is not required at all; even the denizens of the capital, Kathmandu continue to suffer from unserviceable roads, poor drainage system and uncovered potholes. According to research, 2000 lives are claimed by road accidents annually across the country. These issues were just a little piece of Nepal that I saw through a virtual world but it’s a nightmare to the one who has to go through it every day.

Is the government not vigilant in this regard? If so, has the government tried to address these issues or has it preferred to remain silent? Back then in 2015, one of the decisions that were made in the first cabinet meeting was to displace all the tuins in the country within two years. The government then allocated over 3 billion rupees to replace about 187 tuins with suspension bridges. Even after 28 months, only 41 percent of the work had been completed. In 2015, Nepal’s road network crossed 80,000 km that included Strategic Road Network, Local Road Network and rural roads built by different implementing agencies of the government. By 2019, the road network across the country measured 91,556 kilometers according to a government report. The country had 18,048 km of blacktopped roads in operation which is just 19.7 percent of the total road network. Delay in completion for this change can give us a clear picture of how sluggish the development pace is.

The government allocates a budget every year for the least developed region despite the lack of viable plans for the implementation. It is, however, an irony that the budget vanishes like a phantom before any development venture begins. As of 2020, the World Bank has approved a $450 million project to help Nepal improve its roads along with other infrastructures. It is ridiculous to be aware of the fact that Nepalese are unable to taste the fruits of prosperity even after receiving huge lumps of grants from developed countries. It is not that the government is not aware about the aftermath of improper roads and how hard its hit is on the economy, but turning deaf and blind won’t do any good.

Development of roads should, therefore be the main concern of the government. The government along with concerned stakeholders and concerned authorities should figure out improvement plans so that all the regions of the nation get associated with each other. The primary issue is execution. Presumably no Nepali needs a street that will be painted or repaired overnight and will be the equivalent again in a couple of days just to put the best foot forward to the authorities visiting Nepal from various countries. The administration must stop this game of transforming a fox into a tiger just to show the fake prosperity for the time being. The government tends to make plans and toss them into obscurity so it’s time to act and make an impact.

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