Jubilation in Pokhara after loan deal sealed with ChinaPokharites are elated by the loan deal signed between Nepal and China to build an international airport in the lake city. The pact, which was signed on Monday in Beijing, is one of the highlights of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s ongoing China visit.
Pokharites are elated by the loan deal signed between Nepal and China to build an international airport in the lake city. The pact, which was signed on Monday in Beijing, is one of the highlights of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s ongoing China visit.
The proposed Pokhara Regional International Airport has remained on the drawing boards for the past 42 years for lack of financing. City dwellers are thrilled that funds for the dream project have finally been assured. They have insisted that the construction work be started immediately as the airport will boost tourism in the city which relies heavily on revenues from the hospitality industry.
All the paperwork for the financing arrangement had already been readied and the formal signing of the accord between the two governments had been eagerly awaited.
Local Rom Bahadur Bhandari said that he welcomed the agreement and that people of Pokhara would provide full support to the airport project like they did by facilitating the land acquisition process. “But the project must be started and completed on time,” he added.
Likewise, lawyer Bishow Ghimire, whose land was acquired for the airport, said he was thrilled that the construction of the project would finally commence.
Ananda Raj Mulmi, former president the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) said that the government should clear any hurdle and locals should continue to exert pressure for an early completion of the project.
Pokharites should be alert to possible dishonest acts by government officials and the contractor to prevent delays in the project, he added.
According to a former member of the Nepal Tourism Board, Pokhara needs an international airport because it is a tourist city. “The airport will be tourist focused. It will open the door for prosperity in the region,” he said.
“Once the Finance Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) sign a subsidiary loan agreement, the construction work will begin,” said Pradeep Adhikari, engineer of the project. The government will receive a $215.96 million loan from China Exim Bank, 25 percent of which will be interest-free. The interest on the rest of the loan is 2 percent per annum. The loan repayment period has been fixed at 20 years including a grace period of seven years when no interest will be charged. Adhikari said that they had planned to complete the project in four years.
The project has acquired another 629 ropanis of privately and publically owned land for the airport. In 1975, the government had taken over 3,106 ropanis of land. It moved to acquire extra land after a new study showed that the proposed airport would require more space.
There have been no problems with regard to land acquisition and compensation distribution. The project said that it had already distributed compensation payments totalling Rs2.2 billion. The project has completed a culvert, landslide control measures, fencing and black topping of the road to the project office from Prithvi Highway.
Last November, the Finance Ministry had formally requested the China Exim Bank for a soft loan. The credit request followed the Cabinet’s go-ahead on October 27, 2014 to proceed with the project with Chinese funding.
Last May, Caan awarded the construction contract to China CAMC Engineering. The airport will be built under the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) model. The EPC contract binds the contractor to deliver the project at the stipulated time and at the predetermined price regardless of any possible cost overruns.