Residents of hill districts in Province 1 benefit from road connectivity
Padma Chandra Chamling, a resident of Kummayak Rural Municipality-2, Panchthar used to walk for an entire day and then take a day-long bus trip to reach Dharan.
But since the operation of the 191km Sunsari-Taplejung road section some 11 months ago, people like Chamling, who live in settlements close to the Tamor Corridor Track, now have easy access to transportation facilities.
The Sunsari-Taplejung road section, which was constructed at a cost of Rs6.15 billion, connects Chatara of Sunsari to Olangchunggola of Taplejung and passes through Mulghat in Dhankuta.
The operation of the Tamor Corridor Track, the shortest route to connect the hill districts of the province with Tarai, has reduced travel time considerably, say locals.
The Sunsari-Taplejung road section has been divided into seven packages.
Vehicles travelling to Dharan via Mulghat of Dhankuta have started plying the road near Chamling’s house, making it easier for Chamling and other locals to reach Dharan, Itahari and Biratnagar.
“Earlier, we had to walk all day to catch a vehicle to Dharan,” said Chamling. “We would carry food and water before starting our journey. Those days are over now.”
The road connectivity has also given a boost to economic activities in the area with many locals opening small shops to cater to the passing travellers.
Currently, buses, jeeps and private vehicles use the road section to travel from Panchthar to Dharan on a daily basis. With the road connectivity, many hotels and new settlements have cropped up along the road section.
Muskan Sambahamphe of Tumbewa Rural Municipality-1 in Panchthar plans to open a hotel at Lakhuwa Ghat soon.
“The Tamor Corridor road section is close by and dozens of vehicles pass by on a daily basis. People like me, who were solely dependent on agriculture, now have the opportunity to try our hands at business,” said Sambahamphe.
Seventy-five kilometres of the road from Mulghat to Majhitar of Panchthar have been gravelled. The Mid-Hill Highway Road Project has stated that they plan to open a track from Majhitar to Bhalu Chowk soon, which will provide the local population with easy access to transportation facilities.
Out of 191 kilometres of the 10-metre wide Sunsari-Taplejung road, only two kilometres of track in Lelep of Taplejung remains to be opened. Project chief Dan Kumar Shakya says that a contract has been signed for the construction of a bridge over 14 small and big rivers in the road section.
Shakya also said that the tender process for the blacktopping will start as soon as the construction of a canal and several culverts and drains are completed.
“Motorable roads will not only reduce the travel time but also boost the import of food items and export of agriculture and cash crops,” said Shakya.
Prior to the construction of the road section, the residents of the Atharai area of Panchthar, Taplejung and Tehrathum had to travel to Dharan and Biratnagar from Phidim via Ilam and Jhapa through the Mechi Highway. It used to take at least 10 hours to reach Dharan or Biratnagar but now the travel time has been reduced by half.