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Team from Italy to visit Nepal to resolve delays

  • Melamchi project
- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Jun 12, 2018-Melamchi project contractor’s high-level team from Italy will visit Nepal next week to resolve the delays and find solutions to meet the October deadline.

Following the snail-pace progress of the national project, the government decided to invite a top managerial team from the central office of the Italian contractor Co-operativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC).

To resolve the repeated delays by the contractor, the Ministry of Water Supply, wrote a note to the CMC central office and held discussions on the way forward for the project.

The Melamchi Water Supply Development Board (MWSDB) dispatched a letter to CMC headquarters on June 1, urging it to send its high-level team to resolve the cash flow issues and expedite the work as per the action plan. “The CMC has responded to our request. Their team will visit Nepal next week,” confirmed the ministry source.

The war of words between the government and the contractor escalated after the contractor’s repeated failure to abide by the action plan.

As the per action plan, agreed by various parties on April 26, the CMC had agreed to divert Melamachi water to Sundarijal on August 15.

The action plan had enlisted five activities: Tunnel invert lining and final support; head works and other structure for diverting water; information of tunnel monitoring system and data system; installation of vertical shaft and air ventilation and water diversion to be done between May 1 to August 30.

The project continued to crawl. The government then informed the contractor to accelerate its work to meet the deadline in a series of meetings and the site inspections.

The contractor reassured of completing the work on time, but also reiterated its demand for the additional amount of Rs 1.65 billion for extra work because of the earthquake on April 25, 2015. The Dispute Adjudication Board (DAB) is mandated to resolve this issue. 

The DAB held a meeting last Friday. It is yet to announce its verdict on the contractor’s claim for additional money. The board meeting of the MWSDB, on Monday, decided to inform the contractor to work within the approved deadline.

MWSDB Deputy Executive Director Bhoj Bahadur Thapa said, “We are committed to making the contractor work as per the action plan which they have vowed to. The government does not need to request them to do so. We have a contract and a top consultant for that. We need to efficiently maximise the expertise of our consultant.”

The government has decided to monitor the progress. The government believes the contractor could still finish the work as per the deadline since remaining work is not time consuming.

“No major work is pending. The most critical work of digging the tunnel is done. If the contractor is serious then the work can meet the deadline,” said Thapa.

As per the action plan, the contractor needs to complete 200 metres of work - inside the tunnel - every day. While the overall progress is slow, the contractor had completed 76m of one face of the total six faces of the tunnel. This gave hope to the government that the contractor could easily complete the work if they worked at the same speed for all faces.

While the contractor’s demand for the additional money awaits the DAB verdict, the MWSDB board meeting has decided to go for arbitration on a few decisions previously made by the DAB, said Thapa.

Published: 12-06-2018 08:28

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