Handover of first 26km section of Mugu Humla Link Road from Gamgadhi to Darke
The RAP3 MHLR team are pleased to announce the official handover of the first section of the UK aid funded Mugu Humla Link Road (MHLR) to the Government of Nepal. This is a 26km long section from Gamgadhi to Darke Khola. The handover ceremony took place on 25th December 2020 during which responsibility for maintaining the road passed from the project to the Karnali Province Ministry of Physical Infrastructure Development (MOPID). The handover of road responsibility was accepted by the Office Chief of the Infrastructure Development Office (IDO) for Mugu, Yagendra Dharala, on behalf of MOPID. The handover was witnessed by the chief guest Purna Bahadur Rokaya, Chair of the District Coordination Committee (DCC), special guest Hari Jung Shahi, Mayor of Chayanath Rara Municipality, and Er Janak Raj Pant from the federal level Department of Local Infrastructure (DOLI) under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MOFAGA). Audio recorded messages from Suman Baidya, Senior Responsible Officer from the British Embassy Kathmandu (representing UKaid), and Kirsteen Merrilees, Team Leader of RAP3 MHLR, were played during the ceremony which focused on the importance of maintaining the road after handover and thanking all those involved in MHLR construction for timely completion despite the many challenges that have been faced.
The MHLR is funded by UK aid from the UK government and built to fair weather earthen road standards with all necessary drainage and retaining structures. Due to poor soil conditions, the road surface in some sections has been improved through gravelling or stone soling to make it passable for much of the year. The quality standard of the road has been confirmed by an Independent Verification conducted on behalf of UK Aid and a separate joint monitoring visit by project and government officials. They and the DOLI engineer confirmed that the road meets the GON standards.
The full length of MHLR will be 63km when complete, linking through to Deuli Bazaar in Humla and on to other roads that will then connect through to Simkot and eventually to the Chinese border. Currently an access track has reached to the MHLR end point and construction work on the remaining section is ongoing. The handover of the remaining road length is planned for June of 2021. Four small bridges are also due to be constructed along the road, with completion of these planned for May 2022.
During the handover ceremony many participants expressed their high regard for the project and its focus on high safety and safeguarding aspects, advocacy for equal pay for equal work and transparency in all aspects of project delivery.
The opening of this first section will enable local products to reach markets more easily, quickly and cheaply than before. The DCC Chair suggested that the RAP3 MHLR workers are now skilled and can be provided with employment opportunities on other construction and maintenance projects.
The IDO Office Chief confirmed that the Province now holds ownerships of the road and that it will cooperate and coordinate with the local government to protect and maintain the road.