Nov 7, 2017-Investment Board Nepal (IBN) has been studying the possibility of reviving the Hetauda-Kathmandu ropeway which has been lying abandoned for more than two decades to transport goods from Birgunj dry port to the under-construction Chobhar dry port.
The Ministry of Commerce has expedited work to build an inland container depot (ICD) and world class exhibition centre at Chobhar after the Cabinet officially handed over the land last month.
The planned construction site at the southwestern edge of the Kathmandu Valley was formerly occupied by Himal Cement Factory which closed down in 2002. More than 200 ropanis out of the total 1,000-ropani property has been allocated to build the ICD.
The 42-km Hetauda-Kathmandu ropeway, built in 1964 with the financial and technical assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has been out of operation since 1994.
The infrastructure was being used as an alternative to Tribhuvan Highway and Prithvi Highway to transport goods into the Kathmandu Valley. In its glory days, the ropeway ran 10 hours and transported 220 tonnes of goods daily.
IBN Chief Executive Officer Maha Prasad Adhikari said the board had planned to bring the ropeway back to life if it can be used to carry heavy cargo. “Towards this end, we have conducted a pre-feasibility study and field survey,” Adhikari said.
According to Adhikari, IBN has planned to conduct a technical study by the end of this fiscal year. “If the technical study comes up with a positive report, we will expedite construction of the project,” he added.
If the ropeway can be revived, it will need to be extended from Hetauda to Birgunj in the south, and from Matatirtha to Chobhar in the Valley. The existing infrastructure connecting Hetauda, Makwanpur and Matatirtha is in working condition, as per IBN.
“Minor maintenance needs to be done at some points, and the cost of renovating the ropeway will not be very high,” Adhikari said.
The ICD at Chobhar is being constructed as part of the Nepal-India Regional Trade and Transport Project for which the World Bank has provided $15.5 million to the Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board.
The estimated cost of the construction project is Rs1.5 billion.
The government decided to construct the ICD at the edge of the Valley in a bid to keep cargo vehicles outside the city. Once the dry port is completed, shipments from India can be transported directly to customs in Kathmandu. It is also expected to reduce hassles for importers and traffic congestion in the Valley.