Today me and Koen walked onto Lazimpat road and were shocked by what we saw... There was gravel and bricks and felled trees and big chucks of stone everywhere!! It looked like a war zone... an earthquake or... We looked around and realized: it finally happened...: The Lazimpat road widening.
This was something that our area had been talking about for the last year. In 1976 the government decided that it was forbidden to build anywhere within 7 meters from a road, on both sides. This rule was never enforced and when Kathmandu grew bigger and bigger people started building and building... also within the 7 meter range.
Nowadays the roadside of Lazimpat road is lined with little fruit stalls, tea shops, clothes shops, tasty little restaurants and small supermarkets. On Lazimpat road I would visit the fruit stall lady, buy vegetables, eat samosa’s and get my bicycle fixed. And let’s not forget the evenings of hanging out with friends at the Jazz upstairs or the Separate Choice.
Now I was walking along ´my´ Lazimpat road and it did not look familiar at all... The walls of the Shangri La hotel were pulled down, the kitchen of the Tandoori Fastfood place was demolished, the Tushita Restaurant was pulled down at front. And worst of all... the little fruit stall with the amazing old lady was gone... nothing left but a pile of bricks and rubble and the occasional orange or mango. Where did they go? How will they now make a living? I remember very well that only months ago this old happy lady showed me a new button in her shop which allowed her to switch on the blender without walking to the back of the store. This minor improvisation turned out to be useless for on the long run...
I feel for the roadside store community, nobody will get compensation for what happened and they have to start a new livelihood all over again. How can the government let people live and then suddenly bulldozer over their shops and houses? And then they won’t even clean up the piles of bricks and rubble. Lazimpat road will look like a war zone for the next couple of months. For now many houses have not been pulled down yet but will in the nearby future... I hope I won’t be there to see it.