POKHARA, Oct 9: A motor vehicle has reached Chame, district headquarters of Manang, for the first time, in a test drive on the Besisahar-Chame road, which has been under construction for years.
There was exhilaration among local residents on October 1, when a Nepal Army team drove up to Chame from Besisahar.
The army had undertaken responsibility for completing the road project from 2001 when they were able to reach up to Chamche village.
Public transport has reached only up to Chamche village long the 65 km Besisahar-Chame road. Chamche is 31 km from Besisahar.
"We reached up to Danaque village in Chame, which lies 48 km from Besisahar, but not any further," said Indivar Gurung, chief of the Besisahar-Chame Road Construction Work Battalion.
According to Gurung, the trial drive was undertaken to study the accessibility of the extended road section.
“The condition of the road needed a real test-driving experience. We will never know how accessible the turns on the road are without first driving on it,” said Gurung. “From our successful drive we have premised that smaller vehicles can easily access this recently opened road section,” he added.
Gurung further informed that they have doubled their daily work schedule to open the road section for the public before Dasain. “Paving of the rough road along with its expansion at various turns is vigorously under way,” he said.
For years, locals have been depending on mules for transporting in edibles and other materials. Villages above Chame had to wait around two days to receive goods coming through Besisahar.
“The accessibility of the road is great news for the people of Manang district. Development of any area commences with road accessibility and now we have finally entered that phase,” said Chitra Prasad Dahal, a businessman in Chame.
Other then taking a plane, locals has no option but traveling on foot for three days to reach Besisahar. “This will not only make travel easy here, it will also bring in other resources for further development in the district,” said Jiban Rajbhandari, member of Manang Industry and Commerce Association.
The Besisahar-Chame road construction project had started in 1994 when only 9 km of the road section was open.
According to the Nepal Army Work Battalion, the project has cost around Rs 760 million till now. “Around Rs 760 million was spent in the first phase. More budget will be required to complete the project,” informed the Work Battalion.
Some 250 Nepal Army personnel have been deployed for the completion of the road extension.