A few tankers entered Nepal through Rasuwagadhi carrying petroleum products received in Chinese grant during the Indian blockade around two and a half years back.
They had to deal with a big landslide in Ramche. The Nepali tankers did not go back to China again also due to more than 35 turns and landslides at many points if not the commercial nonviability of bringing oil from the Chinese mainland so far away.
The government around that time handed over the responsibility of building a road along the banks of Trishuli as an alternative to that serpentine road full of landslides to the Nepal Army (NA). The NA has now opened track for the shortest road to reach China from Kathmandu.
The 17-kilometer track of Mailung-Syaphrubesi road opened on April 13 has shortened the Kathmandu-Rasuwagadhi route by almost 25 kilometers.
The road will be handed over to the Department of Roads after two weeks, according to chief of the task force for construction of Mailung-Syaphrubesi road Technical Major Sanjay KC. "We have operated vehicles on Friday opening a two-lane track. Building wall and grade-cutting still remain. We will complete all that and hand over the road to the Department of Roads," KC stated. He added that the track prepared can be used round the year apart from the monsoon season.
The Betravati-Dhunche-Syaphrubesi section of Pasang Lhamu Highway is 54-kilometer long. There are 35 turns in the uphill stretch from Betravati to Dhunche and the downhill one from there to Syaphrubesi. The road remains obstructed due to the frequent landslides at Ramche and Mulkharka.
The new Betravati-Mailung-Syaphrubesi road is 31 kilometers long. There are not too many turns in the Betravati-Mailung-Syaphrubesi road constructed along the banks of Trihuli river. The road is constructed along the left bank of Trishuli until Mailung from Syaphrubesi and along the right bank from Mailung connected by a 130-meter Bailey bridge at Mailung.
Chief of the Galchhi-Trishuli-Betravati-Mailung-Syaphrubesi-Rasuwagadhi road project Subodh Devkota said survey and preparation of detailed project report (DPR) of the road whose track has been opened by the NA is being done now.
"Survey work has almost been completed. The DPR will be complete by the first week of May," Devkota said. "If the DPR shows vehicles can be operated, we will start operation immediately. If it requires some upgradation, we will do that soon."
He revealed that the Department of Roads plans to complete blacktopping of the Mailung-Syaphrubesi road within two years. The department has also started to expand the 82-kilometer stretch from Galchhi of Dhading to Rasuwagadhi to two lanes.
The Chinese government has already signed an agreement to expand the 16-kilometer stretch from Syaphrubesi to Rasuwagadhi to two lanes and blacktop it.
"A Chinese team has completed preliminary survey while another team is currently on the field for detailed survey including that of the soil," Devkota said.
This road is not just the shortest road to connect Kathmandu with China but also the shortest to connect India and China across the breadth of Nepal.
This road can connect with India at Thori border point in Chitwan through Galchhi-Muglin-Bharatpur.
China and Nepal last August had upgraded the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung to an international border point.
Rasuwagadhi-Kerung had come into operation as a bilateral border point since December 1, 2014. Nepali and Chinese nationals could cross the point with valid passport and visa until then. Even citizens of other countries can use the point after it was transformed to an international border point.
The Chinese side has already prepared road and other infrastructure from Kerung till Rasuwagadhi but much remains to be done on the Nepali side of the border.