KATHMANDU, March 23 (Xinhua) -- China Construction Seventh Engineering Division which bagged the contract of expanding a part of Nepal's longest East-West Highway, has started work on the project.
Nepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Friday laid the foundation stone, inaugurating the expansion work on the 113-km Narayagadh-Butwal Road Expansion Project, which is part of 1,028-km long East-West Highway that runs through southern plain of Nepal.
"The road will be expanded to four lanes from the current two lanes," Keshav Sharma, spokesperson of Nepal's Department of Road, a government entity responsible for developing and maintaining major highways, told Xinhua on Saturday.
"It will have three-meter wide dividers in the middle, separating two lanes in each side which will help reduce road accidents."
Another feature of the expanded road will be the separate service roads in major urban centers along the highway. "Local vehicles ply on these service roads without obstructing the movement of vehicles in the highway," Sharma said.
Almost all major highways in Nepal have just two lanes without dividers and the Nepali government aims to expand all of them into four lanes in the coming years, according to officials.
Oli said on Friday that the entire East-West Highway would be expanded in the coming years. "The years until 2024 will be the period of construction," he said during the foundation stone laying ceremony.
The Chinese company, a subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corporation, had bagged the contract in December last year and it has to complete the expansion work within 42 months.
The company was awarded the contract at 17 billion Nepali Rupees (153 million U.S. dollars).
The East-West Highway, which connects Mechi district in the east and Kanchanpur district in the west, was built in 1961 and it works as a vital lifeline to a large section of the population.