Regressing roads: The bane of the Nation

Regressing roads: The bane of the Nation

Regressing roads: The bane of the Nation

Aug 22, 2018-A road always leads somewhere but not everywhere. For example, my home, Jorpati, no bus seems to want to go there. Every day I suffer while travelling by road to this destination, it feels like it’s better to walk than to travel by bus. It’s 3km (17 min) from Hyatt hotel to my place but it takes no less than 45 minutes or even an hour because of the congested traffic and numerous potholes, among other issues.

Our roads are for the most part in total disrepair. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for a pregnant woman or someone severely sick to be travelling by such roads. If I had to be rushed to the hospital, I would probably just die on the way because of how slow, winding and filled with holes these roads are. There are a few specialised hospitals in Kathmandu where thousands of patients visit every day. One of the biggest hospitals in the country, Nepal Orthopedic Hospital, is situated here—they treat sickness and deformities in the skeletal system as well as problems with the spine, muscles and ligaments. It is the foremost hospital in the country in terms of patient footfall and resources. Patients bound for an orthopedic hospital generally need to lie still and cannot tolerate jostling and movement—unfortunately, this is not possible given the condition of the roads in Kathmandu. Consequently, many people must suffer great pain before they ever reach the hospital and treatment can begin.

Tempo drivers refuse to drive to hospitals because of the decrepit and congested roads. People

started selling their shops because of slow business and low footfall. Patients always face problems with travelling by these roads. Students don’t ever reach their school on time and office workers are often late but this doesn’t seem to matter to our government until and unless the elections are close. During the elections the ruling party suddenly amps up their road-building initiatives, but once the elections are done the work is forestalled and the problem persists.

Gaushala, the very centre of Kathmandu used to face the same problems of congestion and potholes until the prime minister of India Narendra Modi decided to visit Nepal. Almost overnight, the Gaushala-Hyatt road was pitched and layered with slick black asphalt. If only Modi had chosen to have lunch in the Grand Norling Hotel instead of the Hyatt—the people of my area would have finally gotten proper road access they deserve.

This is truly a matter of shame. I cannot bear the fact that access to proper roads for Nepalis totally depends on the appetite and whims of foreign dignitary. As it stands, this is deplorable. I remember one politician try and justify things by saying, “It is our responsibility to look after the comfort of our guests.” Well, that’s true but what about the lakhs of people who are suffering every day at home? How can we pretend to care about guests when the roof is caving in and our home is falling apart? What about hospital patients with open lesions and broken bones? What about the farmers whose livelihoods depend on selling their produce on time before it goes stale? Do they even count? One foreign dignitary is deemed more important by our leaders than lakhs of suffering people—such are the circumstances in the great republic of Nepal.

The Boudha Stupa is a popular tourist site and like everything else in this city—unless you live close by, it can be very hard to get to. I was in a cafe near Boudha. One tourist entered, he looked at me, laughed and said, “The fountain of Nepal” pointing at an open sewer. I felt ashamed and wondered if this is how it is going to be even in the so called tourism year of 2020. We openly boast about the fact that Gautam Buddha was born in Nepal or that Mt Everest lies here. But for how long can we pretend to be proud? No one judges us based on the past, they judge us based on the present and as it stands, Kathmandu city, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited regions and a rather beautiful place, is slowly turning into a giant, open sewer. If we let things continue as they are, future generations will curse us, I promise.

Source The Kathmandu Post

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