Chand-led cadres allegedly destroyed construction equipment over donationsContractors say excavators were torched following their refusal to donate money to the party.
Over the last one and a half weeks, half a dozen construction equipment, including excavators, deployed by contractors in Morang, Jhapa and Bara were torched, allegedly, by the cadres of Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal.
Contractors said the torching happened following Chand’s party’s demand for donations and builders’ refusal to comply. Three excavators deployed by Bhimeshwor Drilling Tatha Nirman Sewa at Ramite area of Miklajung Rural Municipality were torched last week. Bhimeshwor, in partnership with Sharma and Company Private Limited, has been building a road there.
According to Ramesh Sharma, owner of Sharma and Company, Chand’s Party was demanding one percent of the contract value as donation. “After we refused to donate the amount, they planted the bombs in six excavators deployed at Ramite and the bombs planted in three excavators exploded, damaging the equipment,” said Sharma.
After the incident, a group of the contractors took the issue to the District Administration Office, Morang. However, the Chief District Officer at Morang, Madan Bhujel, told the Post that there was nothing they could do, as the incident took place when the construction equipment was left with no security. He also said that he had advised the contractors to coordinate with the security agencies and give timely information to the administration to tackle any threats they faced.
However, this is not a lone incident of vandalism. In the last one and a half weeks, two equipment—an excavator and a loader—deployed by Sharma and Company were also torched in Jhapa. “These equipment were deployed to build a bridge over Ratuwa Khola at Damak,” Sharma said.
Likewise, an excavator deployed by United Builders at Pathalaiya, Bara, to widen the Birgunj- Pathlaiya Road was also torched last week. The road is being widened to six lanes.
In November last year, an unidentified group had torched four excavators deployed by Golden Good Sherpa Construction to blacktop the Diktel-Chakhewa division road of the Mid-Hill highway in Khotang.
The frequency with the party, despite its activities being banned by the government, has been torching the construction equipment has alarmed contractors. But the trouble for the contractors does not end there.
Contractors say that they are caught in the middle, with security agencies threatening them with consequences if they give in to Chand-led party's demands and the latter threatening them if they don't.
“They have sent us threatening letters. Our security is our biggest concern for us at the moment,” said Rabi Singh, president of the Federation of Contractors’ Association of Nepal.
Shirking responsibility, Kedarnath Sharma, spokesperson for the Home Ministry, said, “In the recent incidents, it was found that the contractors had not coordinated with the security agencies at the concerned district after they received threats. The safety of their equipment could have been ensured, had they notified the security agencies about where their equipment was.”
The ministry’s spokesperson also said that a person whose property is at risk should be taking more precautions for the safety of his/her property. “Security cannot be deployed at every house. So, it is better for the companies to take necessary measures to protect their property, which includes installation of CCTV cameras,” said Sharma.