‘Will the same mistake be repeated?’ Close concern towards the construction of Bhairahawa International Airport
January 1, 2017 – Kathmandu
The most sought project for Nepal right now is the establishment of Bhairahawa International Airport. The airport, which will be the biggest hub for aircraft in the entire south Asia after its completion, is connected with many hopes and desire of Nepalese people. After its construction, the only international airport in Nepal, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) will retire from its long hassle to serve millions of passengers nationally and internationally along with the attending hundreds of aircraft, narrow and wide, with its utmost endurance. Now that it’s too old and wary the upcoming project becomes too crucial and its construction and development must be taken rather seriously including the works done with pace. The result otherwise can hamper the country.
Recently, with the termination of Sanjose Constructora and slow pace of TIA development works, the eyes have been vouching for the project. There have been talks going on around about how the construction at Bhairahawa is not going as per the expectation. Recently, the first phase of work was supposed to be completed by December 2017.The first phase included the construction of new runway which is slated to be 3000 meters and will have the capacity of serving 760,000 passengers annually. But shortages of fuel and building materials due to Terai strike and Indian economic blockade force the government to push the deadline to June 2018.
The contractor, China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group has been delaying the work recently though the materials were available smoothly. The half of the construction works should have been completed by the end of fiscal year in the mid-July but only 26 percent of the works have been completed due to no mobilization of required construction workers and heavy equipment like dozers, tippers and rollers.
China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Company Limited was bestowed the contract to construct the airport at a cost of Rs 6 billion. After the completion of the airport, it could handle 2 million passengers and become a tourist hub, as it is nearly the birth place of Gautam Buddha, Lumbini. But the required pace and works haven’t been done which raises the question against the contracting company as well as the government agencies. There could be lack of coordination between the various parties involved with project which is funded by Asian Development Bank at a 40.5 percent loan and 18 percent grant. The other capital has been provided by the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority and the OPEC Fund International Development of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Government should rectify the problems and get seriously involved with the project that aims to change the future of the country. The construction company should be kept under bird’s eye view and should be pressurized enough to improve the speed of the construction work so that the airport establishment gets complete on time and doesn’t get delayed, not to mention the fate of TIA that took its toll economically and physically of the government.