We wrap up our 10-part InDepth series on the Kathmandu-Tarai fast track project on a somber note. The 72.5km expressway comprises 55.5km of road, three tunnels with a combined length of 6.41km, and several bridges measuring a total of 10.59km. The project has been marred by years of delays and cost overruns—and these problems are likely to be compounded in the country’s new economic reality. The army has made a mess of it, handing out crucial bits to dodgy foreign contractors and taking its own sweet time even as it continues to ask for more and more money.
Five years into the project, only 16.1 percent work has been completed. Land-compensation issues are yet to be settled. Tunnels yet to be cut through. Environmental concerns have been given a short shift. It is hard to be optimistic about the future of this ‘national pride project’ that has already cost the exchequer Rs 25.4bn.
Either the project has to be scrapped without further delay or the state must ensure it is not pushed beyond its new January 2025 deadline. Our calculations suggest more delays could exponentially increase costs and make the project unviable. Time then for all the concerned to go back to the drawing board.
Full story here.