Survey deal for tunnel road ‘soon’

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Survey deal for tunnel road ‘soon’

Apr 9, 2015-

Nepal and Japan are expected to sign an agreement to conduct a basic design survey  for the Nagdhunga Tunnel Road Project soon, a top official of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport said.

Japan has agreed in principle to bankroll the construction project if it is feasible. It is estimated to cost around Rs15 billion, according to a preliminary study conducted by a hired consultant. Of the projected outlay, Rs12.88 billion is for civil construction and around Rs2 billion is for land acquisition.

Secretary at the ministry Tulasi Prasad Sitaula said that three agreements would be signed for different jobs -- basic design survey, detailed design survey and construction of the project.

Speaking at an event held at the Nepal Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Japanese Ambassador to Nepal Masashi Ogawa said that two countries would sign an accord as the study of the project had reached the final phase.

According to the project office, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) is likely to provide a loan at 1 percent interest with a maturity period of 40 years.

The plan involves boring a 2.5-km tunnel under the hills on the western side of the Kathmandu valley to eliminate the winding mountain route which is currently the main access to the Capital.

Officials of the government and Jica had recently reached a “gentleman’s agreement” to involve Nepali companies even if the project is developed under Japanese funding.

According to government authorities, both the parties have agreed that the international contractor winning the construction deal will form a joint venture with a Nepal-based company and will help transfer tunnel construction technology and help enhance the capacity of local companies.

“Jica itself had proposed involving Nepali contractors because Nepal needs many tunnel roads, and the transfer of technology will help it build other tunnels on its own later,” a Jica source had said recently.

Japan’s keen interest in developing the Nagdhunga-Naubise tunnel road is shown by the flurry of visits to Japan it has arranged in the last few months for Nepali ministers and senior government officials to observe its tunnel technology.

Following the visits of Physical Infrastructure Minister Bimalendra Nidhi last year and secretaries of various ministries to Japan a few months ago, another government team from the Department of Roads and Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat reached Japan in February to see things firsthand.

Published: 10-04-2015 08:52

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