KATHMANDU - Living in Kalanki, one of the major gateways of Kathmandu valley, was once a nightmare full of struggles for 62-year-old Wakil Bahadur Pudasaini, a retired professional who has been living in the area over the past 150 years.
However, when Pudasaini was watching vehicles pass through the newly constructed underpass in Kalanki, the country's first, on a recent winter afternoon, he shared that he now feels like living in a different city.
"We had to face congestion, pollution, garbage and disorder every moment. Now, the road is wide, clean and dust-free. China has done very good work, we are so thankful to our neighbor," said Pudasaini, smiling broadly.
His expression was echoed by Nepal's Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, after receiving the symbolic key to the recently completed Ring Road Improvement Project from Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi. The special function was held in Lalitpur in January.
The project was built with China's aid. "We are economically back so we are in high need of support and assistance from our neighbors. China's support is crucial for us to achieve the national goal of 'Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali'," the prime minister said in his speech, after traveling along the improved road from his official residence to the event venue.
Highly appreciating the assistance of China to Nepal in different areas, the prime minister said that Nepal's relations with China have reached a new height in recent times, and he expressed confidence that the Belt and Road Initiative will further strengthen the ties.
Symbolizing the China-Nepal friendship, the 27-km Ring Road was constructed in 1977 under Chinese assistance and this improvement project was started in 2013, undertaken by Shanghai Construction Group Co Ltd.
Under the first phase, the 10.4-km-long Koteshwor-Kalanki section has been completed, including the Himalayan country's first eight-lane road and an underpass.
"The improved Ring Road has become a blessing for the transport entrepreneurs. We are no more bothered about the traffic chaos as the improved road has boosted both our service to public and business," said Somanath Kafle, president of Subhakamana Transport Company Limited, which runs over 150 microbuses along the Kalanki route daily.
"The first phase of the project has been successfully completed and we are very happy with the result. The project is of good quality and it is highly beneficial for pedestrians and for smooth vehicular movement; they have really done an impressive job," Mukti Gautam, spokesperson at the Department of Roads, said in an interview right after the completion of the project.
Representatives from Shanghai Construction Group Co Ltd shared that the project features excellent construction quality despite delays due to the devastating earthquake of 2015.
Stating that China will always support Nepal in its development endeavors, the Chinese ambassador expressed hope that the friendship between the two countries will grow deeper in 2019 with cooperation in different sectors.