KATHMANDU, May 31: The government has decided to designate existing 163 major roads including the much touted Kathmandu-Tarai fast track and Mid-hill highway as national strategic highways in a bid to lure more assistance from the donor community and allocate sufficient budget for timely implementation and regular maintenance of the highways.
The cabinet took the decision last week acting on the proposal of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Works and Transport Management (MoPPWTM).
“With the cabinet decision, six more highways and 157 more subsidiary highways have earned the status of national strategic highways. Thus, it will be easier for us to get more support from donors and more budget for the construction and maintenance of these roads,” Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary of MoPPWTM told Republica on Wednesday.
Earlier, a total of 15 highways and 51 subsidiary highways were designated as strategic highways.
“A total of 72 highways and subsidiary highways covering around 5,000 km were maintained under donor support and national budget so far. An additional 10,000 km in the network of total 229 roads across the country have also been prioritized,” Sitaula added.
The government has allocated around Rs 3 billion from the national budget for maintenance of major roads across the country. However, even the strategically important roads had not been receiving sufficient budget for construction and maintenance.
Economic Survey 2010/11 states that the government had completed construction of 326 km of earthen road, 136 km of gravel road, 185 km of track and repair of 430 km of roads by mid-March 2011.
The major roads upgraded as strategic roads are Mid-Hill Highway, proposed Kathmandu Tarai Fast-track, Tarai roads, Kathmandu Ring Road, proposed Outer Ring Road and a highway in Mahakali.
Despite rapid road construction over the last few years, updating of road status has been long overdue for last one-and-a-half decade.
“Though status of strategic roads has to be updated every three years, we have not reviewed their status since 1997. The recent cabinet decision has paved the way for us to demand more budget for the regular repair and maintenance of roads of strategic importance,” he said.
The government is preparing to publish the decision in a gazette within a couple of days.