Kathmandu ’s road expansion project has come to a standstill with the crusher industry on strike since April 29, protesting the government’s decision to halt the registration of new crusher plant until mid-June.
Before the strike, as many as 100 trucks carrying construction materials came to Kathmandu from such highway entry points like Tikabhairav, Panauti and Dhading. “Our deadline to complete the Budhanilkantha road has passed and we haven’t been able to tar the road,” said Shyam Prasad Kharel, chief of the Kathmandu Valley Road Division. KVRIP stopped the works after it ran out of the materials it had in stock.
The Department of Roads also suspended the road surfacing works of around 10 km stretch in the Valley due to the shortage of asphalt. DoR officials said the workers have already layered the roads with sub-base and base materials, and are ready to be tarmacked. After the base has been laid, the road must be tarmacked in about 20 days, or else its quality starts to degrade.
“If the asphalt is not available within the next few days, the bases of constructed road are likely to get damaged,” said Gopal Khadka, Kathmandu Road Division chief at the DoR. “With the heavy vehicles on the road, pot holes and puddle are inevitable.”
According to DoR, the crusher plants supplying construction materials were barely meeting the demands, and their abrupt closure has a potential of pushing the road expansion works behind its set deadline by weeks or even a month.
“A day without production equals to 10 days of waiting for us because the production is very low compared to our demand,” said Khadka.
Even between the road authorities, there is a long queue for construction materials, as KVRIP, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, DoR’s division offices in both Kathmandu and Patan depend on these crusher plants.
Last month, Forest Minister Mahesh Acharya had announced that no new crusher plant would be registered until mid-June, a move to implement new criteria for crusher plants. In response, Crusher Industry Entrepreneurs’ Association had decided to stop the supply of sand, stone and gravel. Expressing solidarity, the Federation of Contractor’s Association of Nepal had said the government’s attempt to implement new criteria without providing an alternative to the operators would affect infrastructure development and construction works.