The physical progress of the construction of the roads, bridges, and railway network has been sluggish during the first six months of the current fiscal year.
The data of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport shows major infrastructure projects recorded zero progress to limited progress with none of the major projects under the ministry witnessing significant progress in the first half of the current fiscal year.
For instance, the government has targeted to construct the 10 kilometers section of the Khadbardi-Kimathanka road under the Koshi Corridor in FY 2022/23. As of the first half of the fiscal year, there has been no progress in the project at all. The government plans to upgrade this road which connects China’s other border point, to the blacktopped level.
Likewise, the government has been widening the East-West Highway into four lanes from the current two lanes. The progress of the project has remained dismal with just 200 meters being widened during the first half of this fiscal year. The government has a target of widening 90 kilometers by the end of the current fiscal year.
There has been little progress in the construction of the Hulaki Highway and the Mid-Hill Highway projects, but the overall progress remains disappointing. Only 29.2 kilometers of Hulaki Highway was improved in the first six months against the annual target of 250 kilometers.
The government has targeted to complete construction of 356 kilometers in the current fiscal year, but 28.3 kilometers were constructed in the first six months of this fiscal, according to the ministry.
Only two kilometers of black-topped roads were completed under the four-lane road network so far, this fiscal year against the annual target of constructing 100 kilometers.
Likewise, only 800 meters of blacktopped roads whose width is above four lanes, have been completed during the first half of the current fiscal, according to the ministry. The target was to complete 16 kilometers by the end of the current fiscal year.
When it comes to two-lane blacktopped roads, construction of 118.83 kilometers was completed nationwide in the first six months of this fiscal against the annual target of 1,400 kilometers.
The physical progress of the construction of bridges is similar to that of the roads. The government has the target of completing 290 bridges on the two-lane roads. But the physical infrastructure ministry said that only 39 bridges were completed during the first six months of this fiscal. But not a single bridge was completed on the roads which are wider than two lanes, according to the ministry’s data. The government has the target of constructing 10 bridges on such roads by the end of the current fiscal.
Likewise, the sluggish progress in the construction of railway lines has also affected the projects. The Department of Railway has been working on track opening for the railway projects, particularly for the proposed East-West Railway. The track opening of 700 meters has been completed of the proposed railway so far against the annual target of 12 kilometers in this fiscal year.
The dismal physical progress of the projects is also reflected in poor capital spending by the agencies under the physical infrastructure ministry. As per official statistics, the ministry recorded only 14.59 percent of capital spending during the first half of the current fiscal. “Rainy season and mobilization of govt employees in the election are the major reasons behind slow progress,” said a senior official of the Department of Road.
However, contractors have a different take. “Govt has not been making a timely payment for the work which has affected the contractors’ ability to expedite works,” said a member of the Federation of Contractors’ Association of Nepal (FCAN).