Offices under road department ignored instructions to invite bids by mid-SeptemberThe instruction was issued to drive road offices to hasten the tender process.
The Bridge Division of the Department of Roads was planning to award design-build contracts for 50 large bridge projects this fiscal year. But it has not invited tenders yet.
The delay in the bid invitation process goes against the notice of the Department of Roads issued on August 30 stating that road offices should invite tenders by mid-September. It also shows the country’s poor track record when it comes to infrastructure development.
Deepak Bhattarai, chief of the Bridge Division, told the Post that they were in the initial assessment phase before they invite bids for the bridge projects.
“We are collecting information about the exact locations of the project sites, whether there are roads connected with the proposed bridges and whether we have to compensate for land acquisition,” Bhattarai said. “We will probably get all the information after Tihar and we will call tenders, accordingly.”
Meanwhile, the division is also unlikely to invite tenders for 245 new bridge projects announced in the current fiscal year, as their designs have not been finalised yet.
Some of these bridge projects are among the 50 bridges that are to be constructed under the design-build modality.
“Preparing a design is a time-consuming process. So, it could take the entirety of the current fiscal year just to finalise the designs of most of the bridges,” said Bhattarai.
Recently, the division had called tenders for 15 bridge projects proposed along the recently widened Muglin-Narayagadh road.
Likewise, many other road offices have been unable to call tenders as per the instruction of the department.
“Road offices across the country have been calling tenders, but the task has not completed yet,” admitted Shiva Hari Sapkota, spokesperson at the department.
When asked about the instructions issued by the department, he said that it was largely aimed to spur the government agencies into taking forward the tender invitation process much more quickly.
According to Sapkota’s estimate, tenders for around 700 projects have already been issued. But several division road offices are yet to issue tenders for these projects.
These division offices were originally brought under the provincial governments, but the federal government has instructed them to work under the federal government as well.
“As they have to work for both the governments, not much progress has been made when it comes to issuing tenders under the federal government,” Sapkota said.
The department officials believe that there could be fewer fresh tenders this year compared to previous fiscal years because of the recently amended Public Procurement Regulation that clearly states that the government entities should call for a tender only after the site is cleared.
As construction works in a number of development projects have been obstructed by locals, the amended regulation has made the provision that site clearance is a must to start project development works.
“We are following this regulation on most of the big bridge projects,” said Bhattarai.