KATHMANDU: The length of the road network has reached 64,617 km with 32,388 km at the local level, shows the Nepal government’s data. Shyam Mani Kafle, senior divisional engineer at the Department of Local Infrastructure, said that there are 32,229 km of roads at the provincial level. However, blacktopped roads represent only 7 percent of the total road roads.
Roads in provinces
Most of the local roads at the provincial and local levels are in Bagmati Province. Bagmati has a total of 16,001 km of roads. Similarly, there are 13,129 kilometers in Province 1 and 11,570 km in Gandaki Province. Among the total of seven provinces, Karnali province has the shortest road length of 3,301 km. After that, there are 5,475 km of roads in Sudurpaschim province and 6,002 km of roads in Madhesh province. In Lumbini province, there is a total of 9,139 km of provincial and local roads.
According to the data, 72 percent of the local road networks are earthen roads amounting to 46,441 km and gravel roads cover 13,629 km which represents 21 percent of the total local network.
According to the data, only 7 percent of the local roads have been blacktopped. This means that, on average, only 7 km of roads are blacktopped for every 100 km
of roads. Out of the total roads, the length of blacktopped roads is 4,547 km. The data shows that 55 percent of the total local roads are constructed in hilly areas, which is 35,539 km. Similarly, 29 percent or 18,739 km in the Terai region while the lowest 16 Percent or 10,338 km of the local road network in the Himalayan region.
Local road expansion is moving at a snail’s pace, with a focus on upgrading. When we compare data from the last six years, we can see that the rate of expansion of the local road network is slowing. For example, the total number of local roads in the fiscal year 2016/17 was 57,939 km while it reached 64,617 km in 2021/22.
During this period of six years, the growth of local roads has been 10.33 percent. While the length of blacktopped roads has doubled since the fiscal year 2016/17 when the length of blacktopped roads in the local road network was only 2,269 km.
Problems with mapping local roads
The local road network is increasing. On the other hand, the road network is being extended to every local unit. It has provided services to people who have been waiting for a long time for road improvements. However, another aspect to be considered is that most of the roads don’t comply with the road standards.
According to Senior Divisional Engineer Kafle of the Department, which causes problems in road expansion and operation. In addition, there is no coordination between the local and provincial levels in Planning for road construction.
The planned road network has not been built when the political leadership also focuses on self-interested budget allocation. The majority of road planning and budget allocation is based on political bargaining. This has become an obstacle to the goal of organizing the local road network. “The biggest problem is the lack of coordination between the three levels of government: local, provincial, and federal,” said Kafle.