No takers for Dhalkebar construction contractThe Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is having a hard time finding another contractor to finish the Dhalkebar substation after dismissing the original Chinese contractor.
The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is having a hard time finding another contractor to finish the Dhalkebar substation after dismissing the original Chinese contractor.
On December 12, the state-owned power utility published a notice inviting interested bidders to submit proposals within a week. This is the third time the NEA has issued a call for tenders. According to the NEA, there may not be any takers this time too.
“Good companies are not interested in bidding for jobs left unfinished by other contractors. Almost 90 percent of the construction work on the substation has been completed,” said a highly-placed NEA source. “Therefore, the chances of finding a contractor this time are low too.”
The 220 kV substation will allow the NEA to boost electricity imports from India over the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur cross-border transmission line, and prevent possible power cuts during the dry season. The NEA has planned to appoint a contractor without competitive bidding with the Energy Ministry’s approval if the third tender notice draws a blank.
“The only way to complete the project is to find a good contractor and negotiate with it directly,” said the source. “The Dhalkebar substation is of strategic importance, so the government should allow the NEA to appoint a contractor through negotiations.”
Last September, the NEA fired Chinese contractor Central Power Grid International Economic and Trade Corporation after being fed up with its deliberate delays.
As per the deal signed between the NEA and the Chinese company in June 2014, the substation should have been up and running by September 2015. However, deliberate delays by the contractor led to the deadline being extended for the third time to May 31, 2017, but that deadline too passed after it halted construction without notification.
Former energy minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi then extended the deadline to October, and directed the Chinese company to complete construction by that date, which led to work being speeded up and most of the goals being achieved. However, the Chinese company started exhibiting defiance after the NEA terminated its contract for the Bharatpur-Bardaghat 220 kV Transmission Line Project for non-performance.
The contractor should have completed the transmission line project in December 2013. After it failed to finish the project even after the deadline was extended for the third time till June 2017, the NEA scrapped the deal. Since then, the contractor has been repeatedly halting work on the Dhalkebar substation to express its displeasure.