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Contractor resumes work on TIA project

Kathmandu, July 21, 2016: Spanish contractor Constructora Sanjose has resumed work on the $75-million Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) improvement project after a long break.

The ADB has been expressing grave concern over the air transport capacity enhancement project and had declared it problematic due to hitches in implementation.

The project has met only 2 percent of the disbursement target, the ADB said during the second 2016 Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting held here last Thursday.

The contractor has achieved only 17 percent physical progress. As a result, the deadline for the project, which was originally slated to be completed by 2015, has been pushed back to 2018.

The improvement project includes expansion of the existing runway, construction of new taxiways, extension of the apron and construction of a new international terminal building.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan), the Spanish company has resumed work on the international terminal building which had been abandoned last October.

“As the contractor has formally started work on the new building, which is one of the major components of the project, it will not be affected by the monsoon,” said a Caan official. “It will resume other tasks after the monsoon ends.” With delays plaguing the project development, Kenichi Yokoyama, ADB Country Director for Nepal, had recently warned that they could be forced to terminate the contract if the contractor did not resume work. The company had been given a deadline of July 15 to resume work.

Thursday’s meeting had identified two impediments—poor contractor and local consultant performance and non-availability of a quarry site to supply materials—to expanding TIA.

The project has also been prevented from extracting sand from the Pashupati area due to a court case. Tourism Ministry officials said that they needed to wait for the final verdict since they could not set any dates for resuming work as the case was sub judice.

“We have requested the concerned authorities to resolve the issue regarding the extraction of sand to be used as filler for the expansion of the runway as soon as possible,” said Mahendra Singh Rawal, officiating director general of Caan. Work came to a complete halt following the April 25 earthquake last year. However, as the project was beginning to stir back to life, a trade embargo last September caused a severe fuel and raw material crisis forcing it to stop again.

After the completion of the project, TIA will be able to handle more than 5.85 million passengers annually and accommodate bigger aircraft.