Pokhara International Airport project completes apron works

- LAL PRASAD SHARMA, POKHARA

Mar 7, 2019-

The international airport project in Pokhara has completed the construction of an apron, nearly two years after the works started.

The apron, which is also known as the tarmac where aircraft are parked, is spread over an area of 5,519 square metres, the project said.

“After the completion of the apron, we are working on the runway, taxiway and other infrastructure of the project,” project engineer Krishna Prasad Poudel said. “As of now, we have achieved 30 percent physical progress.”

The project in the tourist and commercial hub of Pokhara lies at Chinnedanda, 3 km east of the existing domestic airport. The facility will serve as the aerial gateway to the Annapurna region, one of Nepal’s major trekking destinations.

Pokhara International Airport will have a 2,500-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway, able to handle medium-range commercial aircraft such as the Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and Boeing 757. The airport will have a 1,200-metre-long and 23-metre-wide taxiway connecting the runway with parking bays, hangars and terminals.

According to Poudel, 40 percent of runway construction works have been completed. “The runway will be completed within one and a half months,” he said, adding that it would take three months to complete the taxiway.

The airport will have a 10,000 square-metre international terminal building and a 4,000 square-metre domestic terminal building. As per the agreement, the contractor is required to hand over the project to the government on July 10, 2021. As per the work plan, 60 percent of the airport will be completed by 2019 and the rest by 2020.

Krishna Chapagain, public relations officer of China CAMC Engineering, the project developer, said that they are looking to complete the project six months before the deadline. He added that 250 Nepali and 200 Chinese workers were working on the construction site.

China CAMC Engineering won the construction contract for the project in May 2014. The government signed a $215.96 million soft loan agreement with China EXIM Bank in March 2016 to finance the construction of the airport in the lake city. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli laid the foundation stone for the airport on April 13, 2016. As per the agreement, 25 percent of the loan from China EXIM Bank is interest-free.

The interest on the rest of the loan has been fixed at 2 percent per annum. The loan repayment period has been fixed at 20 years, including a grace period of seven years when no interest will be charged. The government will bear any risk from fluctuations in the foreign exchange rate.

The airport is being built under the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) model. Under an EPC contract, a single contractor takes responsibility for all components like design, engineering, construction and procurement. The contract binds the contractor to deliver the project at the stipulated time and at the predetermined price regardless of any possible cost overruns.

Published: 07-03-2019 12:23

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