If this is the state of the streets in the capital, imagine what it is like in the rest of the country.

Exactly a year ago this week, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa assured Parliament’s Good Governance Committee that the government would “coordinate with stakeholders” to fix roads in the capital

“Due to the negligence of contractors, development projects have not moved ahead and efforts have been made to get them going in coordination with concerned ministries to improve the conditions of roads in Kathmandu,” Thapa was quoted as saying by state news agency RSS on 14 August 2018.

A year has passed. And like most government promises, it was never kept. Kathmandu’s roads this monsoon are in an even worse state than last year. Streets dug up for laying water mains or sewers are abandoned like booby traps, like this pit in Sanepa (above). After locals along the Boudha-Jorpati stretch blocked the street earlier this year in protest, the government hurriedly started repairs. But the monsoon turned the road into a quagmire again.

A scene at Teku bridge this week.
A landslide this week on Sanfe-Martadi road is preventing big four wheel vehicles from travelling in and out of Martadi. The road is the main connection to the remote mountain district of Bajura. Photos: MONIKA DEUPALA

It is worse in the hinterland, where not only are the roads never repaired but new ones are being dug through the mountains just to spend budgets, unleashing rockfalls on farms and settlements below.

Read also: Driving Nepal deeper into debt, Ramesh Kumar

Government SUVs drive along roads that are in poor shape because the budgets to repair them have been spent on expensive cars. Our investigation shows that in the past three years, federal and provincial governments spent a massive Rs250 million on buying SUVs. 

This may be an absolute majority government, but it has been an absolute failure in service delivery. Meanwhile, the federal government this fiscal year spent 2.45% of its total budget on buying vehicles even though most infrastructure is abandoned or half complete after private contractors with political protection absconded with money.

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