Project progress ‘slow but steady’The much-delayed international airport project in Bhairahawa has achieved a measly 10 percent physical progress in 2017, and if it continues at the same rate, it would take another 8 years to finish, the project financer Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Friday.
The much-delayed international airport project in Bhairahawa has achieved a measly 10 percent physical progress in 2017, and if it continues at the same rate, it would take another 8 years to finish, the project financer Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Friday.
The ADB has expressed concern over the slow performance of the contractor of the Gautam Buddha Airport, which is being upgraded into an international facility, and has raised doubts that the project would be completed by the extended deadline of June 2019.
The multilateral development finance institution has already informed the government that it would not be able to finance the project further after its initial deadline in December 2017, in view of its slow progress.
However, it has been weighing options that if the contractor improves its performance until mid-March, the project’s financing could continue, according to the officials at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan)—the project’s executing agency.
Nepal Portfolio Performance Review 2017—an annual meeting held on Friday —decided to conduct a joint assessment of the project in mid-March and decide on the contractor’s fate by March-end.
“We will decide on further action including whether to terminate the contractor if their progress does not satisfy us,” said Sanjeev Gautam, director general of Caan. “The target of achieving a monthly progress of 6 percent has been unmet but it has shown sign of progress.”
As per the performance statistics, as of January, the project has achieved 31 percent of physical progress.
A breakdown by monthly progress in the last three months show that the project achieved physical progress of 0.93 percent and 1.24 percent in November and December 2017, respectively.
In January, the project achieved progress of 1.5 percent. “We are expecting a progress of 3 percent in February,” said Om Sharma, chief of the airport project. According to him, construction of the runway (except asphalt) and international terminal building (except roof) has been completed.
“As these are the key components of the project, it shows that the contractor is on a right track to complete the project in the stipulated deadline,” he said. However, an ADB official told the review meeting that the project has now 17 months left and that it needs to achieve 5 percent of monthly physical progress to complete the project in time.
On November 13, 2013, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) awarded the Rs6.22 billion contract to upgrade the airport to China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group.
Of the total project cost, the ADB has provided $58.50 million ($42.75 in loans and $15.75 million in grants), the Opec Fund for International Development (OFID) has provided a $15 million loan and Caan will bear the rest of the cost as counterpart funding.
The national pride project has been envisaged to serve the fast-rising business and industrial hub of Bhairahawa and facilitate international pilgrimage tourism to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha.