Ktm-Tarai expressway likely to be built under EPC model

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Feb 23, 2017-The government will ‘most likely’ build the Kathmandu-Tarai expressway under the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) model to save time and money, said officials of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport.

Due to recurring controversies and delays, the project’s original cost estimate of 

Rs56 billion has doubled to Rs112 billion in seven years, which means the price tag has been swelling by Rs8 billion annually after adjusting for inflation. 

Top ministry officials told the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday that the 76-km expressway project may go for the EPC model instead of the build own operate transfer (BOOT) model proposed earlier. The much-touted expressway will link the Capital with Nijgadh in the southern plains and cut travel time to less than an hour. 

The EPC contract binds the contractor to deliver the project at a stipulated time with predetermined price regardless of any increase in cost that the contractor may incur after the contract is signed. 

Physical Infrastructure Minister Ramesh Lekhak told lawmakers that they were dealing with three processes simultaneously—resource management, procurement model and establishment of a separate mechanism to execute the five-year project in line with the recommendation of a government committee.

“We will soon prepare a project modality and table it at the Cabinet.” He said that a separate mechanism would be formed to execute the ‘public expressway’. “We are also in the process of purchasing the highway’s detailed project report (DPR) prepared by an Indian consortium.”

Dhan Bahadur Tamang, secretary of the ministry, said that that the DPR would be used as a ‘reference document’ to call for bids under the EPC model. The report will be used as a bill of quantities (BOQ), a document usually used in tendering in construction projects, he said. 

Once the contract for the project is awarded, the contractor will prepare a detailed engineering report which will ascertain the real cost. “The pricing becomes more precise.” 

Recurring controversies regarding the price tag have bogged down the project.  A number of lawmakers said that the cost estimate for the scheme was unrealistic. 

A study conducted by the Asian Development Bank in 2008 had estimated a 

price tag of Rs56 billion for the project. The cost was revised to Rs96 billion in 2014. The DPR submitted to the government in 2015 projected a bill of Rs112 billion. 

Lawmaker and former finance minister Bishnu Poudel said the government should agree to the EPC model and invite bids immediately. “We need to prepare a time-bound calendar to successfully execute the project. Otherwise, it will remain a distant dream.” 

Track to be opened to motor traffic

KATHMANDU: The Department of Roads said Wednesday that it was planning to open the track of the planned Kathmandu-Tarai expressway to motor traffic. Devendra Karki, director general of the department, said that they had been conducting repairs at Chhaimale, Dakshinkali and Nijgadh to allow vehicular movement. The Nepal Army started work to open a track in Nov 2009 as per the government’s instructions. It was completed in 2013. (PR)

Published: 23-02-2017 09:41

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