Construction of government offices left incomplete in BaglungContractors are getting paid before they even start their work, and this is causing them to make off with the money and not complete the work, say legal advocates.
Daily administrative work of the District Administration Office in Baglung district is being performed from a building of Baglung Red Cross for the last six years. And to use their infrastructure, the administration office has been paying millions in rent to the Red Cross Office regularly.
The building from which operations are currently is old and congested, and officials have been facing difficulties in performing their duties. As the sections of the office are in different buildings, employees are often seen carrying files and important documents publicly. Despite these issues, the office has been unable to find a solution for a long time—because the contractor hired for the construction of the office’s new building is out of contact.
Jaya Baba Gorakh JV, a contractor company, had started the construction of the building, with a deadline of two years. Six years on, the construction is still incomplete. Although the building of the DAO has been erected, the windows and doors have not been fixed yet.
“We have been taking initiatives to talk with the contractor time and again,” said Chief District Officer Luk Bahadur Chhetri. According to him, the DAO has a plan to encourage the contractor to complete the work soon, adding that if they take action against the contractor, they will have to re-invite a tender and re-start the project which will be more time-consuming. They did not disclose their plan to the Post.
The Post tried to contact the contractor Shyam Shrestha but he was not reachable. The last time Shrestha was in contact was when Ram Bahadur Thapa, Minister for Home Affairs, had inquired about the construction work of the building. Chhetri said, “The contractor had resumed construction work for a while after being inquired by the minister. Then after, again the contractor went out of contact.”
The DAO building is being constructed at a total cost of 38 million. Tejendra Paudel, the chief engineer of the district based in the Urban Development and Building Construction Division Office, said, “The contractor is dishonest, as he comes into contact once and doesn’t show up for a long time.”
The condition of the District Court building is also similar. The court is also being operated from a rented building for the last three years. The contractor company had started the construction work of the building four years ago. According to the agreement, the construction work of the building should have been completed in a year and a half, but it’s already been three years, with the end nowhere in sight.
Ram Sharma, a legal advocate, said that the concerned authority could not take action against the contractor for delaying works. “The state should not get frightened with contractors. But it’s the opposite here,” said Sharma, adding that some of the divisional engineers deliberately pay contractors the entire sum even before the completion of the work out of fear. “This is why most of the contractors disappear,” he said.