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ApEx Series: Doing ropeways again

ApEx Series: Doing ropeways again

Ropeways can be a vital means of goods-transport in a country like Nepal with its rugged terrains and ever-present risks of roads being blocked by water-induced disasters. Compared to air and road transport, ropeway transport is cheaper too.

The importance of ropeways for Nepal had become evident even a century ago: construction on the country’s first ropeway, the 22-km link between Makawanpur and Kathmandu, had started in 1922 under the orders of Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher.   In the latter half of the 20th century, the country had many more ropeway lines.

In 1986, Hetauda Cement Factory started one to ferry limestones. In 1995, the Conservation Ropeway was built at Bhattedanda on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley to transport milk. There were a few other lines as well. But they soon fell into disuse as the national focus shifted to road-building, despite clear evidence of the cost-effectiveness of the ropeways.

Now the discourse on the revival of ropeways in Nepal has again started. We explore the various dimensions of this debate in this five-part, bi-weekly ApEx series.

Part I: Nepal’s most iconic ropeways—now abandoned

Part II: High in potential, low in execution

Part III: Is ropeway revival possible?

Part IV: International ropeway practices and lessons for Nepal

Part V: What if… ropeway was our major means of transport?