The absence of a significant railway system makes it that that the transportation system in Nepal depends heavily on the road network. Much of the network is unpaved and needs upgrading to provide all-weather passage.
The Department of Roads recorded 15,905 Km of total road length in the network in 2000, comprising 2,974 km of national highways, 1,820 Km of feeder roads, 9,060 Km of feeder roads and 2,051 Km of urban roads.
The road network is comprised of:
1. The strategic road network linking all the main commercial centers in the country with one another and with international border crossings. Most of this network is sealed and of a standard generally appropriate to the present traffic. Links to the main road network exist for a majority of the district centers and are planned for most of the rest. However large areas in the hills and mountains are not accessible by road. Out of a total of 5,430 Km, about 4,700 km have been completed. There are now road connections to all 20 Terai districts, 34 of the 39 hill districts and 4 of the 16 mountain districts.
The main feature of this network is the Mahendra Highway which runs in the Terai from the Eastern to the Western border over a distance of 1024 Km. It has 477 bridges, 66 of which longer than 100m. The longest one has a span of 1150m. The highway is in general in good condition except for the section Hetauda – Narayangadh which has been damaged by landslides and river erosion.
From the Mahendra Highway a number of sealed highways are going north in the mountains to the various districts.
In the hills and the mountains traffic is desperately slow. These are narrow roads with one thousand bends, occasions to overtake are rare. Long lines of trucks are climbing at snail pace the road to Kathmandu.
Truck and trailers and containers carrying trucks are rare as difficult to manoeuvre on such cramped roads. By far the most popular trucks is the 8-10T Tata truck.
2. The rural access facilities, including all district and village roads, foot and mule trains, suspension bridges.