The Chinese government has shown interest in funding the second phase of the Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project which includes upgradation of a 17-km stretch linking Kalanki, Chabahil and Koteshwor.
A high-level delegation from China is expected to visit Nepal soon to discuss the project and conduct a preliminary field study before signing an agreement with the government of Nepal.
“Officials of the Chinese Commerce Ministry are scheduled to arrive within a week,” said Sanjay Kumar Shrestha, chief of the Foreign Cooperation Branch at the Department of Road. “There is a great chance that a grant accord will be signed during the visit for the improvement of the road section not covered by the first phase of the project.”
China has been upgrading the Koteshwor-Ekantakuna-Kalanki section under the first phase financed by a Chinese government grant. Nepal and China signed a pact to improve the 10-km segment in 2012.
When the deal was signed, China had expressed interest in upgrading the entire 27-km length of the Ring Road, according to the Department of Road. “The plan was subsequently abandoned as the Chinese government said that the funding required to build the entire Ring Road exceeded its maximum limit,” Shrestha said. “At that time, China had promised to upgrade the rest of the Ring Road under the second phase. Therefore, we are hopeful that China will undertake the remaining section.”
As part of the first phase of the project which is worth Rs5.27 billion, the 10-km road section will be widened to eight lanes from two lanes, and separate bicycle lanes will be built. According to the Department of Road, around 70 percent of the construction work has been completed. Four bridges have been expanded. Likewise, the construction of three overhead bridges for pedestrians is almost complete. The project also includes an 800-metre underpass extending from Khasi Bazaar to Baphal. Currently, Shanghai Construction Group, the contractor hired to develop the project, has been working on a war footing, and it is on track to meet the completion deadline of mid-July 2018.
The project, launched in June 2013, was expected to be completed in 2017. But the completion date was pushed back by a year to July 2018 due to shortages of construction materials, the devastating 2015 earthquakes and fuel crisis triggered by an Indian blockade. The Chinese company resumed work in January last year and has stepped up the pace of work. It is likely to meet the completion deadline, according to Shrestha.