Runway extension plan goes haywire after contractor flees

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 28, 2018-

The project to extend the runway at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) will be delayed by a year as the contractor fled after signing the contract.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) has planned to increase the safety area by 300 metres at the southern end, so if an aircraft aborts takeoff, it will have room to stop on the runway. The project is part of the Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). There is no overrun area at the northern end of the runway. If a plane taking off from this end runs out of runway, it could plunge into a ditch 50-60 metres deep. For this reason, it was decided to lengthen the runway at the southern end. 

Caan awarded the contract to undertake the major airside and landside infrastructure improvement works, known as Package 1, to Shanxi Construction Engineering Group of China seven months ago.

“We have written to the contractor four to five times to start the construction, but there has been no response,” said Babu Ram Poudel, chief of the project. “So we will be moving ahead to scrap the contract and begin a fresh selection process.”

The Chinese contractor could forfeit its Rs70 million performance bond. Poudel said they aimed to begin the construction work after the monsoon next year.

This is the second time that Caan’s runway extension plan has been left in limbo. Previously, it had hired Spanish company Constructora Sanjose to implement the project, but it had to be sent off for non-performance in December 2016.

The runway extension programme, a Package 1 component of the project, was awarded to the Chinese company last October. The duration of the runway extension project is 18 months.  

As per Nepal’s Public Procurement Act, the second candidate among the shortlisted bidders can be selected in case a contractor disappears after signing the

contract. “However, this process goes against ADB rules,” said Poudel.

“We have written to the ADB about the problem, and it is positive about simplifying things for us.” According to Caan officials, the project will not wait for the ADB’s decision.

Caan officials said the contractor pulled back from the project complaining that prices of construction materials had jumped steeply.

Sanjose and Caan signed a contract for the TIA Modernisation Project, now known as the Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project, in December 2012 with the completion deadline set for March 2016.

Caan subsequently sent the Spanish company away by issuing a ‘notice of termination’ on December 9, 2016 for delays. The termination of the contract became effective on December 27, 2016. In four years, the project had recorded a meagre 17 percent physical progress.

In June 2017, Caan again invited bids to get the stalled project moving. It also broke up the project undertaken by the Spanish company into four different packages. Package 2, which includes the construction of an international terminal building and associated works, has been awarded to a Nepali contractor under national competitive bidding.

Package 3, which consists of building a parallel taxiway and international apron, is yet to be awarded.

Package 4 consists of soil filling works on the northern side of the airport. There are no signs of the contract for Package 4 being awarded any time soon.



Published: 28-04-2018 08:45

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