Construction of Diktel-Khanidanda-Ahale road in limboThe deadline for the project, which began in September 2018, is March 20.
The deadline for the completion of the 10.974km long Diktel-Khanidanda-Ahale road section in Khotang is March 20. However, it is highly unlikely that the project will meet its deadline given that 60 percent of the work remains to be done, said Maniram Dhakal, the information officer at the District Level Project Implementation Unit in Khotang.
The poor pace of the construction work has greatly inconvenienced the locals, with many raising their voices against the delay and the quality of work being done by the project officials.
Netra Katuwal, a resident of Diktel Rupakot Majhuwagadhi Municipality Ward No.4, said that the construction work so far lacks quality.
“We have been suffering due to the delay in the completion of the construction work,” Katuwal said. “The contractor must be penalised for the delay.”
Two weeks ago, Ram Kumar Rai and Usha Kala Rai, Province 1 council members, along with Babi Chamling, chief of the District Coordination Committee in Khotang, had inspected the road following widespread complaints from the locals.
“We came to inspect the project and we are not satisfied with the quality of work done,” said Ram Kumar Rai. “All work done on drainage, gabion walls and culverts lacks quality."
The project was flagged off on September 17, 2018, with a budget of Rs 208.08 million from the National Reconstruction Authority. The National Reconstruction Authority had signed the contract with Yaktuhang Sap Siruwa JV about a year and a half ago, according to Dhakal.
“The construction work should meet the required standard. If the quality of the work is poor, the contractor and the National Reconstruction Authority should take the responsibility," said Rai.
The project has started digging out drains on either side of the road without determining the height of the road surface.
“At this rate, the drain pipes could be above or below the road. This is ridiculous,” said Dhakal.
Following complaints of shoddy work, the District Level Project Implementation Unit has released only around Rs 54.4 million of the total budget to the project.
“We have asked the contractor to improve the quality of work and redo sections where necessary,” said Dhakal.
Shiva Prasad Chaulagain, the new head of the construction company, said he plans to complete the project by mid-May.
“We have brought the required equipment such as roller, grader and water tanker to expedite the construction work,” Chaulagain said. "We will pick up pace now."
Federal lawmaker Bishal Bhattarai, who had laid the foundation stone of the project, said the contract won't be extended if it fails to meet the deadline on March 20.
"The contractor will be asked to pay a fine for the delay and to complete the project as soon as possible," Bhattarai said.
According to the latest provisions of public procurement, if a project fails to meet the deadline, the contractor can be blacklisted for up to three years.
Meanwhile, Kalyan Dahal, Chaulagain’s partner who was leading the project until a month ago, said the work was delayed due to a lack of budget.
“The National Reconstruction Authority did not release the budget in the current fiscal year citing lack of standard,” Dahal said. “So I could not give continuity to the project work.”