Local subcontractors, vendors working with Melamchi’s Italian contractor claim Rs1.67 billion in duesAt least 87 firms have submitted their claims to the committee formed to give its recommendations on paying companies left hanging after the project fell apart
At least 87 firms that worked on the Melamchi Water Supply Project for the Italian contractor have made claims of over Rs1.67 billion from the government, months after the mega project fell apart following the termination of the contract.
Earlier this month, the government had started collecting details on the dues of the various subcontractors, vendors, suppliers and workers who had worked with the previous contractor of the project.
A 14-member committee was formed to give recommendations to the government on how the payment of these contractors and workers owed by the CMC can be made.
“We had asked all of them to submit their documents with claims within three days,” said Krishna Gopal Tamang, chief of the District Coordination Committee Sindhupalchowk, who also heads the committee.
According to Tamang, among a total of 87 firms coming forward with dues claims, one represented workers who were not paid for months before the work on the project site came to a halt in December last year.
After the Italy-based Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC) abandoned the project in December over a financial dispute with the government, local subcontractors and other vendors had been demanding their payment.
Since then they have been threatening the government with not allowing resumption of the remaining work on the project unless the government makes arrangements for their payment.
After the government has already announced fresh bids to complete the remaining works, which is also likely to see obstruction from the agitated subcontractors, suppliers and unpaid workers, the government has asked them to come forward with their claims of dues.
“The committee had collected the claims based on the documents presented by the local vendors. The report has been submitted to the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board,” Tamang added. “The mandate of the committee is only to facilitate and furnish its recommendations to the board.”
Since the government terminated the contract with the CMC last February, local vendors have been demanding that the government should clear their dues.
Rajendra Raj Pant, spokesperson for the board, told the Post that neither the committee nor the board can make the final decision regarding the payments.
“Since these local suppliers and subcontractors have worked for the CMC, the government doesn’t recognise them. Neither the committee nor the board can directly make the payment which is owed to the CMC,” said Pant.
Local subcontractors have been demanding that the government should make the payment from the money it has blocked as the contractor’s guarantee amounts deposited in banks. According to Pant, the seized performance guarantee of CMC amounts to Rs2.9billion.
The dues claims will again be verified by another technical committee. The final decision to clear the payment based on the recommendation will be first owned by the board which will forward it to the Water Supply Ministry. The concerned ministry will have to get it approved by the Cabinet, according to Tamang.
“The project will be successful only if all the stakeholders—local communities, vendors and subcontractors—are taken on board, and their concerns are addressed,” said Tamang. “Failing to do so might create obstructions in future as well.”
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