Kathmandu, October 21
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today laid the foundation stone of the much anticipated Nagdhunga-Naubise tunnel road project — the first of its type project in the country.
Marking the commencement of the construction of the project, PM Oli said that Nepal has now entered into the era of tunnel roads and urged the project developer to complete the project within the stipulated time.
“Though time overrun of projects has remained a historical challenge in Nepal, the experienced Japanese contractor-led project is different,” said Oli, encouraging the Japanese contractor, Hazama Ando Corporation, to complete the tunnel project on time.
The government had inked an agreement with Hazama Ando Corporation to construct the tunnel project on September 23. The Japanese firm, which is expected to commence the project construction works in a full fledged manner after Tihar, will have to complete the project within 42 months from September 23, as per the agreement.
PM Oli informed that the government will soon initiate construction of such tunnel roads including the Tokha-Khahare and Betrawati-Syafrubesi tunnel projects. “The government highly focused on tunnel road projects during the recent visit of the Chinese president. We will gradually implement the agreements inked and start construction of planned projects,” he added.
The prime minister further said that the government is committed to developing new infrastructure projects including roads, tunnels and airports and strengthening the existing infrastructure. “New airport projects and road projects are being developed and will be completed soon,” he said.
Though the construction of the Nagdhunga-Naubise project was expected to start from March, it was delayed due to unresolved issues related to site clearance and land compensation. “We have fully acquired the necessary land for the project in Kathmandu but some landowners still need to be paid compensation for land acquired from them in Dhading district,” informed Shyam Prasad Kharel, head of the tunnel project.
Operation of the Nagdhunga-Naubise tunnel is expected to eliminate the need to travel the circuitous route over the Valley’s western rim — the prime overland link between Kathmandu and the southern plains.
Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Raghubir Mahaseth, informed that the government is planning to complete the detailed project report of at least seven tunnel projects across the country within this fiscal year. Along with this, Mahaseth said that overhead bridges will soon be constructed in seven places in Valley — Chabahil, Koteshwor, New Baneshwor, Gaushala, Kalimati, Tripureshwor and Thapathali.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is the development partner of the Nagdhunga-Naubise project and had earlier finalised the evaluation of both the technical and financial proposals that were submitted by the Japanese contractor.
JICA is providing loan assistance of $141.41 million to the government for the construction of the tunnel project. The estimated cost of the project hovers around $188.19 million. The remaining cost of the project will be borne by the government. The government has allocated Rs 6.27 billion for the project in the budget for the ongoing fiscal year.
A version of this article appears in print on October 22, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.