Kathmandu Valley’s overhead bridges in dire need of repair

  • Urban planners say the dilapidated bridges pose a serious threat to pedestrians
- ANUP OJHA, Kathmandu

Mar 17, 2019-

Over half a dozen overhead bridges in the Capital city are in dilapidated condition because of the lack of effective maintenance from Kathmandu Metropolitan City.

The Post in October 2017 had carried a story on the sorry state of the overhead bridges. After Post’s report, Innovative Concept Nepal had taken the lead to maintain the bridges--and shops that run in and around it--but there hardly are any visible changes.

“The company had just plastered the steps of the bridges, but didn’t do anything to the pillars,” said a man who runs a shop in one of overhead bridges in Ratnapark. He refused to give his name.“I don’t think it’s that much safe to run a shop here. But I have no other option as it gives me a regular earning,” he added.

Majority of overhead bridges are in the Ratnapark area. They were built between 1998 and 2000, but they have now developed cracks and iron rods used to support these structures are rusted.

“If these bridges are not repaired with technical audit, this may collapse and it could be fatal,” said Suman Meher Shrestha, a senior urban planner at the Town Development Fund, giving an example of a recent bridge collapse in India.

Six people were killed and more than 30 people were injured in Mumbai on Thursday when a pedestrian bridge connecting a train station with a road collapsed.

“These brides are already over two decades old and they may collapse any day; we need to learn from Mumbai’s accident and the metropolis should take immediate action,” said Shrestha. 

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City had handed over 12 overhead bridges to Innovative Concept Nepal in 2000.

As per the contract, the private company, owned by Manoj Kumar Bhetwal, could lease shops built under the bridges and was supposed to maintain the structures, but the company has hardly done any substantial work except minor repairs a year ago--that too after media reports about the dilapidated condition of overhead bridges.

The company had to pay Rs 120,000 annually to the metropolis.

The metropolis extended the contract second time on April 23, 2011, for a period of 18 years to the same company, increasing the annual charge to Rs2.2 million.

“There has been talk about repairing the overhead bridges, even Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya has instructed to repair all these bridges, for which the metropolis has allocated Rs 1.5 million to Rs 2 million,” said Ishwor Man Dangol, spokesperson for the metropolis.

Ram Thapa, a senior engineer at the metropolis, had earlier said lifespan of the overhead bridge is not more than 20 years. 

The bridges, which are meant for people to cross the roads, have become a place for people to set up shops. With no proper lighting, many even urinate and defecate on the bridges in the night.

Experts have warned that these bridges are a serious risk to pedestrians.

“These bridges can’t hold over 100 people at the same time, they need to be repaired as soon as possible,” said Shrestha.

 Six of these bridges between Sahidgate and Jamal were built by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City in the late 1990s and remaining others were constructed under the public-private partnership.

Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi, who leads a five-member team to inspect infrastructure in the metropolis, said her team will soon monitor the bridges and take initiatives to repair them as per the need.

Khadgi also said that CCTV cameras and lights will be installed to ensure that unlawful activities are not carried out on the bridges.

Published: 17-03-2019 08:23

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