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Construction

1. Introduction

RAP3 MHLR is the short name for the Mugu Humla Link Road Project implemented under the 3rd phase of the Rural Access Programme. It is funded by UKaid through the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

The project is implemented by IMC Worldwide Ltd, a UK based Management Consulting firm.

The project started in November 2018. It is expected that the road will be complete and ready for handover in October 2020. The total project budget is £15.5 million.

2. Project Location

The MHLR road itself links the southern part of Humla district to the Strategic Road Network (national highway system) via Gamgadhi in Mugu district. It lies within Karnali Pradesh (Province 6) in western Nepal.

The project team will also support the Province authorities in Birendranagar (Surkhet) and the Federal authorities in Kathmandu, to realise the project objectives.

3. Project Objectives

The primary objective of RAP3 MHLR is to construct a road between Gamgadhi town in Chhayanath Rara Municipality (Mugu district) and Deuli village (Darma) in Chankheli Rural Municipality (Humla district), where it joins the previously constructed 14.5km RAP3 Sallisalla-Darma road. A strategic road is currently under construction from Simkot, headquarters of Humla district, to the RAP3 Sallisalla road. The MHLR will therefore provide an important road link on the ancient trade route between Humla, Mugu, Jumla and Surkhet, a trade route that lies entirely within Karnali Pradesh.

The project also aims to:

  • Demonstrate best practice in resilient road construction using an optimum combination of labour and equipment.
  • Demonstrate and promote best practice in local road maintenance at local and Province levels.
  • Provide employment opportunities to local communities living along the MHLR.

4. Road Construction

The road has been designed to the Nepal Rural Road Standard 2nd Revision 2071 (2014) for engineered fair weather earthen road access, including all associated stabilisation and drainage structures. It is approximately 67km in length.

The first 4km is along an existing road which the project is improving through minor realignment to widen hairpin bends and to reduce steep gradients. Some road surface treatment including gravelling and stone soling in short steep sections is also being applied.

The remaining 63km is new construction works. Due to the low population density and budget constraints, we are using excavators for track opening and other earthworks, and labour for structures works.

4.1. Excavators

The excavators are locally hired under an Equipment Based Road Works Pilot which has included Council of Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) training for excavator operators and Level 1 examinations conducted by the National Skills Testing Board (NSTB). 26 operators from along the MHLR corridor and neighbouring Karnali districts successfully passed their NSTB test and are eligible to apply for excavator licenses.

MHLR is also providing on the job training to excavator operators and helpers to enhance their knowledge and experience in safe operation and management of their machines and key road alignment criteria, especially maximum road gradient and minimum curve radius.

4.2. Local Labour

All structures work is being carried out by local labour. Road Building Groups (RBG) are formed from the communities living along the road corridor, which work within easy walking distance of their villages. Special Road Building Groups (SRBG) are also formed from the communities along the road and nearby Wards within the two municipalities through which the road passes. These SRBGs carry out work further away from the villages where it is necessary to camp, or carry out specialised semi-skilled work such as tree cutting and rock drilling.

Due to the low population density and poverty incidence along the MHLR corridor, pro-poor targeting in selecting RBG members has not been applied: Any person between 16 and 65 that lives along the road and is physically able to work, is eligible to work on the project. Special arrangements have been put in place to allow those with minor disabilities (e.g. poor hearing or eyesight, restricted limb movement) to also work in the RBGs and other associated activities.

It is expected that approximately 500,000 employment days will be created, with short term wage income provided for approximately 2000 workers from the local area totalling £5.7 million, 37% of total project costs. Approximately 40% of workers are women.

5. Support to Local Government

The project will also support road maintenance along MHLR and the adaptation of previous road management and maintenance mechanisms established under Department of Local Infrastructure (DoLI) with RAP3 support to fit in with the new federal administration structure.

The experiences and training materials developed under RAP3 MHLR will be captured in a series of technical notes that can be shared with local governments to help them manage and maintain their road networks in the future.