Gautam Buddha Airport Project: 2nd package of project to start in Feb

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 24, 2017-

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) has planned to launch the second package of the Gautam Buddha Airport Project in Bhairahawa next February, considering the expected progress of the ongoing civil works by then.

The second package involves installation of Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (ANS) and Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems.

“The documents to invite bids for the second package have been prepared,” said Om Sharma, chief of the project. “We expect the infrastructure required to install navigational aids to be completed by then.” The airport in Bhairahawa, the gateway to Lumbini, is being expanded to an international airport. The bidding process is expected to take at least three months.

Last October, the government had decided to retain the Chinese contractor for the airport project, Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group, as it was starting to show satisfactory progress.

The Chinese contractor had fulfilled all the requirements set by the project and had pledged to expedite work as per its terms and conditions. The company has increased the number of workers to more than 200. It has also installed a new management team. Currently, the contractor is collecting river bed materials, and so far it has accumulated around 25,000 cubic metres, Sharma said. “It is preparing to excavate another 150,000 cubic meters of river materials,” he said, adding that work was expected to progress rapidly as soon as the construction materials are ready. Sharma said that workers had resumed construction of the runway. “We have targeted blacktopping the runway by February next year.” According to Sharma, the contractor is likely to achieve 32 percent physical progress by November if it maintains the current pace.

A dispute over payments between the Chinese contractor and the Nepali sub-contractor, Northwest Infra Nepal, had stalled work at the construction site since March. The contractor resumed work in October even though the payment dispute remained unresolved as it feared it might be fired. Due to the dispute, work at the project had slowed to a snail’s pace, achieving not even 1 percent of the monthly progress in the past six months. The airport project had achieved a meagre 26 percent physical progress as of September-end.

Sharma said that based on current trends and its commitment, the airport project can achieve 80 percent of its physical target by June 2018.

The government awarded the contract to upgrade Gautam Buddha Airport into an international airport to the Chinese company in October 2014. The national pride project has been envisaged to serve the fast-rising business and industrial hub of Bhairahawa and facilitate international pilgrimage tourism to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. After the first phase of the upgradation project, the airport will have a capacity to handle 600,000 passengers annually.

Published: 24-11-2017 08:27

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