Nepal: Landslides, rains damage road bridges worth over $25 million

The prolonged rainy season and landslides this year have damaged several roads and bridges in Nepal, with the estimated losses running over $25 million, recording an increase of almost 33 percent in comparison to the year

Oct 05, 2021
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Nepal: Landslides, rains damage road bridges worth over $25 million

The prolonged rainy season and landslides this year have damaged several roads and bridges in Nepal, with the estimated losses running over $25 million, recording an increase of almost 33 percent in comparison to the year. The damage this year is significantly high compared to past years. A total of 27 bridges, two of them are almost five decades old, and several small and big roads, including highways, are damaged in 227 recorded incidents, according to the government data.

“Our initial estimate is that landslides and floods caused damage worth NPR 2.8 billion (roughly $25 million) to roads and bridges,” Shiva Prasad Nepal, spokesperson at the department of roads, was quoted as saying by The Kathmandu Post. “The value of actual damage can be confirmed only after conducting a detailed survey,” he added. 

Situated in the high mountains of the mighty Himalayas, Nepal is notorious for its dangerous roads, mostly due to poor planning and environmental assessments to build these roads. As a result, it has an extremely high casualty rate due to road accidents.

“Well-constructed roads prevent accidents, but we have made ours ignoring technical and engineering aspects because new roads bring in votes, and maintenance doesn’t,” Kamal Pandey, a road safety analyst, was quoted as saying by Nepali Times.

According to the government data, over 12000 people have died between July 2014 to July 2019 in around 54,000 road accidents reported in the same period. More people die on Nepal’s highways each year than in all-natural disasters combined, according to a report in Nepali Times [Read more here].

The government, from the center to local, generously rolled road projects, often compromising safety standards in hilly areas over the transportation needs of locals. The promise of roads during elections also brings more votes. In the process, it creates a risky web of small roads.

Officials of the country’s department of roads conceded that the country’s major highways have been vulnerable due to the haphazard construction of link roads. They bring water and debris to the highways and cause landslides, they said.

Shiva Prasad Nepal, the spokesperson of the department of roads, said the focus has wrongly been on building roads rather than quality roads. In recent years, the department has written to local governments to stop the reckless construction of risky local roads.

 (SAM)