Multi-year contract projects moving at snail’s pace

- RAJESH KHANAL, Kathmandu

Feb 28, 2019-

Even as federal government has allocated necessary funds, majority of the projects under multi-year contracts are moving slowly.

The progress on almost all development projects, from those under the National Priority Projects to smaller ones that has been recently transferred to provincial governments has been dismal this fiscal year.

According to the ministry, though the government has targeted to utilise 34 percent of the budget by February-end, only 21 percent has been spent.

Currently, the federal government has 29 large projects under the multi-year contract segment, which are together worth Rs217 billion. The projects undertaken by the central government include Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway, Mid-hill Highway and Postal Highway and Karnali, Koshi and Kaligandaki corridor highways.  

After the formation of three-tier government, the federal government undertakes responsibility of only those road projects that connect two or more than two provinces, major highways, roads that link the bordering areas of Indian and China and business strategic roads. The responsibility of constructing other road projects have been transferred to provincial and local governments. Similarly, the federal government constructs bridges having length of more than 50 meters.

The problem is more severe in those projects that has been transferred to the provincial and local government, according to Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport. Last December, the federal government had decided to hand over 1100 road projects that were being constructed by the Road Department to the provincial and local governments.

These projects, which are together worth nearly Rs26 billion, were initally stalled after the department instructed its divisional offices to stop the construction works and hand them over to the respective provincial governments following federal government decision.

Now, the ministry has said that delay in handing over the projects, lack of ownership  and human resources has led to slow works on these multi-year contract projects. The ministry official said the progress has been poor as the provincial and local governments are yet to take ownership of these projects. The provincial governments have stated that they will not take ownership of projects whose construction works have already been started by the Department of Roads.

According to the ministry, Rs7.96 billion has already been provided to all provincial government for the construction of projects under multi-year projects.

Speaking at the meeting of Parliamentary Development and Technology Committee, Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at the physical infrastructure and transport ministry agreed that the project construction at local level was mainly hit by lack of human resources. “One engineer has been handling an average of 20 bridges construction,” he said. According to Adhikari, the government has targeted to complete construction of 300 bridges, majority which fall along the national pride road projects within this fiscal year.

After lawmakers drew the government attention, especially on human resource crunch and poor monitoring system for the delay in construction, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth said that the federal government would take the responsibility of all the projects that were incepted by the department, provided the provincial government fail to take the charge. “We have mobilised 27 divisional office of the department at the local level to complete the projects under construction,” he said.

Published: 28-02-2019 11:15

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