Thursday, July 25, 2024

Hostility Between Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Road Division Over New Road Development Escalates

A heated dispute between the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and the Department of Road has erupted over the expansion of footpaths in the New Road area. The conflict came to a head recently when KMC police and road department workers clashed. It even required federal police intervention to prevent further escalation. Let’s explore how the hostility between Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and Road Division over New Road development has escalated.

Background and Escalation

The tension began when KMC initiated the expansion of footpaths. They dug 1.5 meters on both sides of the road in New Road, aiming to improve pedestrian safety and mobility. Road division Office insisted that the road section was under its jurisdiction and required prior approval for such modifications. Despite clear objections from the Road Division Office, KMC proceeded with its plans.

Hostility Between KMC and Road Division
source: myRepublica

On Monday morning, the Road Division commenced re-pitching the excavated road, prompting KMC police to intervene and halt the work. The situation quickly escalated into a standoff, with both sides standing firm on their positions. The federal government then deployed a significant police force to the scene, compelling KMC police to back off.

Statements and Reactions

Raju Nath Pandey, chief of City Police, reiterated KMC’s commitment to expanding the footpaths in response to local demands. “We backed off, as we cannot scuffle with the federal police force. Everybody knows who deployed the federal police and what their intention is,” Pandey remarked, criticizing the Road Division for selectively prioritizing the repair of sections modified by KMC.

Mayor Balendra Shah took to social media, taunting Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth for the delayed road expansion projects. Shah threatened symbolic protests by sending truckloads of dust to the minister’s office daily until the long-stalled Ring Road expansion project resumed. “For the past 15 years, the citizens of Kathmandu have had to breathe in dusty air and face hardships in the name of Ring Road expansion,” Shah wrote on social media.

Hostility Between KMC and Road Division
source: myRepublica

In contrast, the Road Division issued a statement condemning KMC’s actions as unauthorized and disruptive. “The behaviour of the largest and responsible local government of the country mocks the rule of law, and this kind of behaviour in a violent and chaotic manner will never enhance the dignity of the metropolis,” the division’s statement read.

Community Sentiments

The dispute has polarized local residents. Many locals from Ward 24, which includes the New Road area, support KMC’s efforts, citing significant safety concerns due to narrow pavements. Residents like Sobha Malakar expressed frustration over the difficulty of walking on the crowded sidewalks, emphasizing the risks posed to pedestrians, especially women and children.

Conversely, some residents from other wards opposed the footpath expansion, fearing it would worsen traffic congestion. These concerns were voiced by individuals who had previously protested for parking spaces in the area.

new road
source: The Rising Nepal

Future Outlook

The standoff on Monday ended without violence but highlighted the need for better coordination and communication between municipal and federal authorities. The Road Division has called for KMC to seek proper approvals and engage in dialogue before undertaking such significant urban development projects. Pramod Khatiwada, information officer at the Road Division, expressed hope that KMC would “come to their senses” and follow due processes in the future.

In conclusion, the situation underscores the complexities of urban planning in Kathmandu, where differing priorities and jurisdictional boundaries often lead to conflict. The need for a collaborative approach to address the city’s infrastructure challenges is evident, with the hope that both agencies can find common ground to serve the public interest effectively.

Whom do you support in the escalated hostility between Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and Road Division over New Road development?

Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC)

Road Division

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