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Pappu delay disrupts local life and trade

- ARJUN RAJBANSHI, MAHABHARA (JHAPA)

Sep 22, 2018-

Pappu Construction, the contractor which has come under heavy government scrutiny for its poor performance in multiple government construction contracts, has been found dilly-dallying with the construction of a bridge across the Kankai River, even though the company undertook the construction project seven years ago.

Because of the delay in the bridge construction, locals residing in the southern belt of Jhapa district have had to risk their lives while crossing the river daily. In addition, the delay in the bridge construction has also affected the daily transaction of local producers of the region.

In 2011, the government awarded the contract to Pappu Construction, expecting it to be complete by 2015. But, as of now, only 40 percent of the work has been completed, according to the directorate office of the Postal Highway.

The project engineer of the contract, Nanda Kumar Gupta, said that the contractor failed to increase the construction pace despite repeated follow-ups by the authority. And, in 2015, the government had to thus extend the deadline by two years. In this regard, Pappu Construction should have completed the construction as of mid-July 2017.

The government, through the directorate office, is investing Rs304 million for the bridge construction. After the construction of the bridge is complete, the 724-m-long bridge is expected to be the country’s longest bridge. According to the directorate office, the delay in bridge construction has affected the completion of the Postal Highway as well.

Geduram Rajbanshi, a 70-year-old local, said that people were having a hard time because of the lack of bridge connectivity in the region. According to him, the contractor has failed to even erect the foundation until now. Rajbanshi said people are compelled to travel 50 km just to reach the main market of Jhapa, a distance which can otherwise be covered in just 10 minutes provided the bridge is constructed.

Kankai is the largest river in Jhapa district. In the absence of the bridge here, a number of people risk their lives daily to cross the river. Those who use boats to cross the bridge have to pay high prices to boat operators. 

Suresh Shah, another local resident, blamed the government’s weak regulations for the contractor’s delay in the bridge construction. “This delay has not only affected the movement of local people, but also the trading of the local products.” 

Pappu Construction has recently been accused of being involved in a number of scams related to construction. After a flurry of complaints were filed against the contracting company, the government, three weeks ago, launched an investigation against the company. A five-member probe committee under Western Regional Road Division Chief Deepak Shrestha has been formed for the purpose.

Pappu has been accused of missing the deadline on 25 bridge construction deals, out of a total of 41 bridge construction contracts. The progress in all the remaining projects is also dismal.

Published: 22-09-2018 08:29

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