Panel tasked to suggest appropriate modalityThe government has been working to determine the most appropriate modality for the construction of the planned airport in Nijgadh, Bara. It has constituted a five-member committee to recommend whether the modern facility should be built with public or private financing or both.
The government has been working to determine the most appropriate modality for the construction of the planned airport in Nijgadh, Bara. It has constituted a five-member committee to recommend whether the modern facility should be built with public or private financing or both.
The airport scheme envisions building a modern airport in Nijgadh, 175 km from Kathmandu in the southern plains, as an alternative to congestion and winter fog at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), the country’s sole aerial gateway.
The high-level panel comprises joint secretaries from the National Planning Commission and the Finance and Tourism ministries. The deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) and the under-secretary of the Tourism Ministry are members.
“We have been given two weeks to prepare a report and recommend to the government the appropriate modality under which the airport can be developed,” said Suresh Acharya, joint secretary of the Tourism Ministry and committee leader.
The modality of the project has been changing along with changes in government. The Tourism Ministry has seen at least nine ministers in the last five years, or a new minister every six months.
“Some of them have suggested that the airport should be developed through private financing while others wanted public financing. Initially, Landmark Worldwide Company (LMW) of Korea had proposed to develop the project. The government awarded a detailed feasibility study (DFS) contract to the company in March 2010.
LMW’s report proposed constructing the airport under the ‘build own operate and transfer’ (Boot) model. It has estimated a price tag of Rs65 billion for the first phase. Subsequently, the government decided to involve foreign investors to build the mega project when a bevy of foreign investors expressed an interest in building it.
The latest proposal to build the planned second international airport came from a London company. WGP Global, in conjunction with its project partner Uniel Holdings, has expressed an interest to lead a team to design, construct, finance and manage the project.
Last year, the Malaysian government had proposed implementing a fully-financed construction of the airport under a ‘design, finance, build, operate and transfer’ (DFBOT) model through a government-to-government deal.
In July 2015, a four-member delegation from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) arrived in Kathmandu and inspected the planned airport site in Nijgadh. The visiting team informed Nepali officials that they were ready to invest in the project, either through the private sector or government funding or both, as per the wish of the Nepal government.
The Oli administration then decided that the project should be developed by mobilizing the country’s own resources.
“There is a lot of confusion about the project’s financing modality,” said Acharya. “We have many choices like BOOT, public-private-partnership (PPP), engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and government-to-government (G2G), among others,” he said.
“An appropriate modality will be recommended to the government.” Based on the recommendation, the Tourism Ministry will submit a proposal to the Cabinet that will clear all confusion about the modality, he said.
Meanwhile, the International Relations and Labour Committee of the Legislature Parliament on Thursday directed the government to complete the plan and design of Nijgadh International Airport and accelerate the construction process.
Lawmakers complained about the snail-paced progress of the airport project. The committee also directed the Tourism Ministry to clear obstructions in the way of Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa and start the construction of Pokhara International Airport without further delay.