Slew of firms show interest in continuing Melamchi project

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Slew of firms show interest in continuing Melamchi project

Nov 2, 2012-

More than a dozen foreign companies have shown interest in continuing work on the tunnel being built for the Melamchi Drinking Water Project (MDWP) from where the former contractor left off.

Construction of the 26.3 km-long tunnel came to a halt after the government ended the agreement with the contractor China Railway 15 Bureau Group. The Chinese firm had initially pulled out of the project which led the government to formally cancel the contract as disagreements over delays and fulfilment of demands came to a head. Interestingly, China Railway is one of the hopefuls vying for the project. Located to the northeast of Kathmandu, the project will divert about 170 million litres per day (MLD) of water to the valley from the Melamchi River in Sindhupalchok district to ease the capital’s chronic water shortage.

According to the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board (MWSDB), seven companies have made site visits to find out the exact status of the project. Hyundai Constructions and Daelim Industrial Company (South Korea), McComell Dowell (Australia), Larsen and Tourbo, KEC India and Gammon India (India) have recently visited the project site.

According to MWSDB officials, Impregilo of Italy, VINCI Construction of France, IL&FS of India, China Water and Engineering of China, Kyeryong Company of Korea and a number of other companies from Singapore, Japan and the UK have been making queries with the date for calling new expressions of interest (EoI) approaching. The MWSDB plans to invite EoIs on Nov 9. MWSDB officials said that during its meeting with the interested companies, a representative from Bajra Guru Construction Company, the Nepali agent for China Railway, had said that the Chinese company was interested in applying for the project. The board had called a meeting on Oct 30 to interact with foreign companies which have been showing interest to undertake the remaining portion of the tunnel project.

“We were shocked when the Nepali representative for China Railway said that it would be bidding for the project,” said Krishna Prasad Acharya, executive director of the MWSDB. “We do not know the intention of the representative. We do not give much value to the earlier contractor as it has shown negligence and also tried to grab its property unlawfully.”

The board has uploaded information on the project’s status on its official website and on the sites of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Association of International Tunnel Constructors. Though the board has said that it could restructure the design as per the wishes of potential contractors, nobody has come forward, said Acharya.

Officials said that interest among potential contractors has been heightened because of the promise of a reward for early completion. Provisions for a reward for early completion and penalty for delays will be inserted in the new contract.

The government has rescheduled the project’s completion date to March 2016 in its action plan made public two weeks ago.

The project had earlier been targeted for completion by 2015. The board said that it would sign a contract with a new firm on Jan 7, 2013 to resume the project. A new contract means further delays and cost overruns amounting to as much as US$ 100 million.

Published: 03-11-2012 09:41

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