Kathmandu, May 12
Construction work of the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) has been halted due to lack of budget. After the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation could not pay the Chinese contractor company, Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Company, the company has halted construction work from today.
As per Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Company, the ministry still has to pay the company around Rs 200 million. However, they have not received any amount for the last one month.
An officer of the GBIA project, on condition of anonymity, said that the receipt had been submitted to the National Pride Project Office under the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal in mid-April. After that the documents were submitted to the ministry on April 19. The ministry is supposed to forward the details to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), however, the documents have been stuck at the ministry and the project is yet to receive any response from the ministry.
ADB holds 62.6 per cent share of investment to upgrade the GBIA. As per the contractor, they are out of budget and the ministry has not allocated any further budget to them.
The project office said that the tourism ministry has not been able to coordinate with the Ministry of Finance for the budget allocation. Moreover, due to lack of budget the contractor company has not been able to purchase construction materials.
Meanwhile, Prabesh Adhikari, project manager of GBIA, said that a high-level discussion is going on to resolve the issue. “May be the expenditure limit for the airport has exceeded the estimated amount and that is why both the finance and tourism ministries are facing problems in allocating the budget,” he said. He further claimed that the problem will be resolved soon and airport will be ready within the scheduled timeframe.
Meanwhile, what has to be noted is that during construction of such projects some materials have to bought in cash. Similarly, around 300 workers are currently working on this project on a daily salary basis. In such a situation the contractor will be compelled to halt work if it does not receive the budget from the ministry on time.
As per project manager Adhikari, other major works have already been completed and currently the contractors are working on blacktopping the runway. Once the infrastructural work (ICB 01) is completed, CAAN has to begin the second phase of the project which involves installing the equipment (ICB 02).
GBIA is expected to play a major role in the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.
However, such issues are delaying the construction of the airport. A few days back President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had announced to bring GBIA into operation within 2019 while the project officers have said that it would be difficult to operate the airport by 2019.
A version of this article appears in print on May 13, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.