9 January 2017

Naxal, Kathmandu: a landslide apparently caused by poor construction management

Posted by Dave Petley

Naxal, Kathmandu: a landslide caused by poor construction management

At 7 am yesterday morning a section of the Bhagwati Bahal-Bal Mandir road in Naxal, Kathmandu collapsed into a deep excavation, closing this busy highway.  Ekantipur has the best image of the site that I have seen so far:


The collapsed road section in Naxal, Kathmandu, via eKantipur


The site is an excavation for a new 5 star hotel, provisionally planned to be Hilton Doubletree.  The Kathmandu Post has a good description of the situation:

The crumbling of the road section between Bhagwati Bahal Temple and Bal Mandir, an orphanage, swallowed up one lane of the street, opening a cavity measuring around 25 meters deep, according to the Department of Roads.

“The developers had dug a big hole around two to three storeys deep to lay the foundation of the proposed hotel. Use of heavy equipment too played a catalytic role in causing the accident,” Roads Department Spokesperson Dayakanta Jha said.

The damage caused to the road segment severely affected vehicular movement in area throughout Sunday. The department has said it would take at least two to three days to repair the segment.

A preliminary assessment carried out by Roads Department officials revealed that the incident occurred “despite taking proper precautionary measures”. “Pile foundation, which is required for such construction, is right in place,” Jha said.

The last statement is decidedly odd.  I question whether the issue here is pile foundations; the problem is more likely to be with the retaining structure on the margin of the excavation.  There are many techniques to allow this to be conducted safely; in this case something has clearly not worked as planned.

An example of what is possible appeared on Twitter last night, this is apparently the excavation for a new hotel from Iran:


An excavation for a new hotel in Iran, via Twitter