Monday, November 11, 2002

Timely construction of overhead bridges always a dream

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Nov 10 [2002]: What could be a better example of the pace of the capital’s development than an overhead bridge that was supposed to have been built in two months but has not been completed after a whole year? Considering that five other overhead bridges, which were to be constructed in the meantime, are nowhere in sight, the whole project appears doomed.

Following a grand religious launching in November 22 last year, the constructing company, Innovative Concept Nepal (ICN), had promised that the three-million-rupee-bridge close to the Bhadrakali temple, would be completed in two months. The bridge still requires the final touches before being opened for public use.

Two years ago ICN won the lucrative contract for building six overhead bridges with the stipulation that their revenue would be from leasing commercial space and shutters. It was required to pay Rs 120,000 annually to KMC, apart from bearing the cost of their construction.

A flower-seller at the nearby Bhadrakali temple said that the uncompleted construction has become an eyesore for the public and the government offices around it. "The construction works disturbed the flow of traffic for the whole year as workers stored construction materials along the road due to lack of open space around the site. It caused quite a few traffic accidents beneath the bridge during construction," said he.

Pedestrians remain confused at not being allowed to use an almost complete bridge especially when the vehicle drivers do not control their speed there, seeing the bridge across the road.

"I see the bridge there but it is yet to be used. I don’t know whether I should climb on the stairs or cross the road, defying the speeding vehicles," said Kul Man Maharjan, an elderly pedestrian. He said that the KMC talks too much but works at a snail’s pace.

Though five other bridges were to be built during the interim period, at Ratnapark, Tripureshwor, Chabahil, Balaju and City Bus park in two phases, there are no signs of any construction at any of these sites. However, Director General of ICN, Paras Mani Baral said that the overhead bridge at Bhadrakali would be open to the public shortly.

"I believe we will be able to open the bridge in a week. There will be an inaugural function and we are hopeful that we will be able to lay foundation stones for the other bridges on that date," he said. Baral admitted that the construction of the bridge was "quite slow" blaming lack of working space at the site for delay.

Officials at the KMC maintain that they repeatedly urged and even warned the private company to finish the construction, but they could see no progress. "We really had a bad time with the ICN people. We repeatedly requested them to speed up the work but the result was never satisfactory," said Jyoti Bhushan Pradhan, former Chief of Public Works Department of KMC.

The agreement between the KMC and the ICN was made as early as in November 2000. The ICN also agreed to increase the "royalty" to KMC by five percent per year.
[Kathmandu, Monday November 11, 2002 Kartik 25, 2059.]