Groundbreaking Triumph

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In the culmination of six years of dedicated construction efforts, Nepal celebrates a monumental achievement: the completion of the Nagdhunga tunnel. The breakthrough of the tunnel marks a significant milestone in Nepal’s infrastructure development. This 2.688-kilometre-long marvel marks the first mountainous traffic tunnel, a transformative infrastructure project set to boost connectivity and economic progress in the country. The passageway prepares to open to the public in a year. With two lanes dedicated to vehicular traffic, this tunnel represents a vital link between Sisne Khola in Dhading and Totipakha in Chandragiri Municipality-1 in Kathmandu. 


The tunnel would alleviate traffic congestion and enhance transportation efficiency. This groundbreaking project, worth Rs. 22 billion, with three-quarters of the funding sourced from the government of Japan through concessional loans, underscores the collaborative efforts between Nepal and Japan in fostering infrastructure development. The involvement of Japanese engineering companies, particularly Hazama-Ando Corporation, highlights the commitment to deliver quality infrastructure that aligns with international standards.


Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda rightly acknowledged the pivotal role of tunnels like Nagdhunga in Nepal’s broader goal of expanding mountain road infrastructure. He emphasises the benefits of improved interconnection, ease of movement, and regional balance that such projects bring. Indeed, the tunnel era is dawning upon Nepal, promising reduced travel time, lower transportation costs, and a boost to the local economy.


However, amidst the celebratory atmosphere, it is also crucial to acknowledge the challenges encountered during construction. The hilly and mountainous terrain presents formidable obstacles with intricate strata and the constant threat of landslides. The unforeseen floods and collapses within the tunnels, compounded by the disruption caused by heavy rainfall and the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the resilience required to overcome such adversities. It is imperative to ensure that the benefits of projects like Nagdhunga extend beyond mere infrastructure. It must be accompanied by sustainable economic development and equitable growth. The government’s commitment to policy reforms and attracting foreign investment is commendable, but effective implementation and transparent governance are essential to realise these aspirations.


The Nagdhunga project serves as a blueprint for future tunnel construction endeavours in Nepal. Learning from the experiences of this endeavour, meticulous planning and risk mitigation strategies must be employed to navigate the challenges posed by the mountainous landscape. Collaboration with international partners, as demonstrated by Japan’s support, remains crucial for tackling such ambitious undertakings.


As the country embarks on its journey towards sustainable economic development, initiatives like the upcoming international investment summit provide a platform to showcase its potential on the global stage. However, attracting foreign investment requires tangible reforms and a conducive business environment. The government’s commitment to creating such an environment is commendable, but actions must speak louder than words.


In conclusion, the completion of the Nagdhunga tunnel road is indeed a matter of celebration. It symbolises the nation’s determination to overcome geographical barriers and embrace a future of enhanced connectivity, development and prosperity. Yet, as we reflect on this achievement, it is essential to recognise the challenges overcome, the lessons learned, and the path forward towards inclusive and sustainable development. With perseverance, innovation, and collaboration, Nepal can truly harness the transformative power of infrastructure to propel itself towards a brighter future.  

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