Unfinished road construction affects residents of Diktel

The poor road condition in Diktel Bazaar, Khotang has affected the daily life of local residents.

Pupils from Saraswati Higher Secondary School, Saraswati Basic School, Diktel English Boarding School and Mount Everest Boarding School at the district headquarters struggled to get to their schools each day.

Shivahari Dhakal, a teacher at Saraswati Upper Secondary School, said children are at high risk of falling into ditches. “The road is full of potholes and has become prone to accidents. It is very risky for children to use the road,” he said.

Poor road conditions affect patients who need ambulance services or immediate medical attention.

“It is almost impossible to get patients to the hospital via this road as it is riddled with potholes and littered with construction materials left unattended. The authorities should keep in mind that their negligence has put a lot of people at risk,” Jay Acharya, another local, told The Post.

Dipnarayan Rijal, the outgoing mayor of Diktel Rupakot Majhuwagadi Municipality, had pledged to complete road construction works at Diktel Bazaar in the last fiscal year. But his promise has not yet come true.

The road construction works were awarded to Surya Construction Bikash Nirman Sewa JV. The agreement was signed on June 23, 2021 with a deadline set for November 26, 2021. The four-month deadline was later extended due to the coronavirus pandemic and the new deadline was set for mid-April 2022. So that the project was still not completed in time, the outgoing mayor recommended a three-month extension.

Even after two deadline extensions, the construction work is far from complete.

Tirtha Raj Bhattarai, head of Diktel Rupakot-Majhuwagadhi Municipality, said he had sent a letter to the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction and the contractor, warning that he would take action if the works were not completed on time.

Although the cost of the road project was estimated at Rs 30.93 million, the tender was awarded to the company at a 40% lower price, according to Tulsiram Kharbuja, Project Manager of the Urban Development Department and building construction, Okhaldhunga.

According to Kharbuja, so far Rs 9.4 million has been paid to the contractor but only 45% of the work has been completed so far with the deadline falling to just one month.

Kharbuja said the process of terminating the contract with the construction company started two months ago.

“We are terminating the contract with the construction company soon,” he said.

According to officials from the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, Okhaldhunga, the construction company has been paying compensation for delays in the project works since mid-April. About 1.3 million rupees was deducted from the contract and paid as compensation.

District Chief Officer Phanindra Dahal said the construction company had handed over the project work to local contractors which had caused some delay.

“The administration has repeatedly reported the problem of neglected road construction to the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction,” Dahal said.

“Along with the construction company, the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction is also responsible and the administration plans to take action against both,” he said.

The dilapidated stretch of road has caused drainage problems in the main bazaar area and with monsoons almost here, the bazaar area is in danger of flooding, say local residents.

“It has already started raining but there is no drainage for the rainwater to drain,” said Nawaraj Joshi, a local businessman from Diktel bazaar. “It affected public and vehicular traffic in the bazaar area.”

Meanwhile, Rajan Kiju, one of the contractors involved in building the road, says the work will be completed by next month.

But residents are skeptical.

“They couldn’t complete the construction of the road in so many months. It is hard to believe that they will complete the project next month,” said Gunaraj Sanju, a businessman from Diktel Bazaar.

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