Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to finance airport improvement projectThe Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has decided not to take a loan from the Asian Development Bank to implement package 4 of the Tribhuvan International Airport improvement project saying that its lengthy process would slow them down and eventually push up costs.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has decided not to take a loan from the Asian Development Bank to implement package 4 of the Tribhuvan International Airport improvement project saying that its lengthy process would slow them down and eventually push up costs.
Package 4 consists of soil filling works and building international parking bays and extending the parallel taxiway towards the northern end of the runway. This is the most important component of the Tribhuvan International Airport Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project in terms of duration and cost.
Project chief Babu Ram Poudel said they would issue a re-tender notice for package 4 in the first week of March. “The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal will finance the project now,” he told the Post.
Last December, the aviation authority revived the project after a two-year halt. The submission deadline had been set for January 22, 2019, but the invitation to bid for expansion works was abruptly cancelled before the last date. The bid was rescinded after financer Asian Development Bank made an objection that the project had called for tenders before the funding was even approved.
An Asian Development Bank official had told the Post then that their project funding deadline would end in December 2018, and that the bank and the aviation authority had agreed in principle to finance the project through other sources. But the aviation authority said that if they wait for the Asian Development Bank’s approval, it will take another five months to issue the tender for the project. “The project is already delayed by two years, and we don’t want further setbacks,” said Sanjiv Gautam, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. “So we decided to fund the project with our own resources.”
The fourth package is the most critical part, and it will take at least three years to complete, Gautam said. One major component is supplying 2.1 million cubic metres of soil to fill the ravine on the northern side of the airport where 15 new parking bays will be constructed, according to the project. The project includes construction of around 450 metres of taxiway.
The Tribhuvan International Airport Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project was broken up into four packages in December 2016 after sending off the original contractor, Spanish company Constructora Sanjose, for non-performance. The other three packages have already been contracted, according to the project.
The project hit a snag at the very start as the soil to be used as filler for the expansion of the runway was not available. Work was held up for a few days after the airport was closed when a Turkish Airlines jet crash-landed in March 2015.
There were further delays due to the 2015 earthquakes and fuel shortages. The project completion deadline was first extended to 2015 and then to 2016, but after even that looked unachievable, the date was pushed back to 2020. The revised deadline has now been set for 2021.
The soil filling works were suspended following controversy over the extraction of soil from a holy site. The previous contractor had removed soil from the Pashupati quarry to use as filler, and a writ was filed at the Supreme Court against it. The court issued a stay order preventing further removal. The Spanish company then stopped work after having removed 400,000 cubic metres of soil.
According to figures released by the airport, 4.34 million international passengers travelled through the airport last year. That marked an 11.70 percent increase over 2017. Passenger traffic at Nepal’s sole international airport has been growing since 2003, except for an 8 percent drop in 2015 when the country was struck by a severe earthquake.