Japan extends Rs15.1b to build Nagdhunga tunnel

- RUPAK D SHARMA, Kathmandu

Dec 21, 2016-

Travelling in and out of Kathmandu Valley may be a lot easier in a few years, as Japan has formally agreed to extend financial support to build a tunnel on Nagdhunga-Naubise section-one of the busiest and gridlock-prone segments of the Prithivi Highway that links the country’s capital.

The Japanese government has agreed to provide a soft loan of 16.6 billion yen (approximately Rs15.1 billion) to the Nepal government to build the Nagdhunga Tunnel Project. 

The loan is being provided at an annual interest rate of 0.01 percent for a period of 40 years. The credit also comes with a grace period of 10 years, meaning the government can begin repaying the loan after 10 years of acquiring the funds.

Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi and Japanese Ambassador to Nepal Masashi Ogawa are expected to sign on the loan agreement on Thursday, Lal Bahadur Khatri, undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance, told the Post.

The Nagdhunga Tunnel Project basically has two components. First, construction of 2.45-km tunnel from Basnetchhap to Sisne Khola. Second, construction of 2.6-km approach road from Basnetchhap to Thankot. 

The construction of these infrastructure is expected to cut the travel time over the mountainous route from Nagdhunga to Naubise-the main gateway to Kathmandu Valley. Also, traffic flow is expected to be smooth in the area especially after construction of the tunnel, as narrow roadway dotted with sharp bends coupled with the area’s vulnerability to landslide has made Nagdhunga-Naubise section prone to gridlock.

If things go according to existing plan, the tunnel will have two lanes of 3.5 m wide each and a 2.5m wide shoulder. It will also have LED lighting facility, mechanical ventilation, evacuation tunnel door and emergency telephone service.

The approach road, on the other hand, will have two bridges, toll facility and a roadside area for travellers to rest. The rest area, spread across 4,650 sqm, will have parking facility for nine heavy vehicles and 23 lights vehicles, fast food restaurants, shops and toilets. The construction of all these works is expected to begin in 2019. 

Prior to that a detailed report of the project would be prepared, which would provide minute details on the tunnel and approach road. 

The process of preparing the detailed project report is expected to begin immediately after the signing of the loan agreement. It would take around one-and-a-half years to prepare the report, as per the government.

The project, which will be implemented by the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, is expected to be completed by August 2022. The entire cost of the project is expected to hover around 22.1 billion yen (approximately Rs20.2 billion), of which 75 percent would be covered by the soft loan being extended by the Japanese government.

Published: 21-12-2016 08:51

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