Kathmandu, May 13
Construction work of the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA), which was halted since Sunday, resumed today after the government decided to release the budget of almost Rs 700 million to the project.
Following failure of the government to release the payment on time, the project’s contractor — Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Co had halted construction work since Sunday morning.
However, the Chinese contractor has resumed works following the government’s decision made on Sunday evening to release funds, informed Prabesh Adhikari, project manager of GBIA.
“The construction work was halted as the project lacked budget for necessary procurements and payment to staffers.
As the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has now released the budget, the construction work will go on in full swing,” informed Adhikari.
Owing to the delay in issuance of the budget, almost 300 workers at the project working on a daily basis had not been issued wages since last one month. Moreover, lack of budget with the project had also affected the purchase of construction materials, thereby halting the overall project construction.
The MoF had been finding it difficult to release additional payments to the GBIA project as the government is currently under pressure to meet its revenue target. MoF officials said that the decision was made to release the necessary payments by transferring the budget that had been allocated to other non-performing projects to GBIA.
In November 2013, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had awarded the contract for construction of GBIA to Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Company, as per the 2010 agreement between the government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) to build the GBIA.
The construction cost of GBIA is estimated to be around Rs six billion. Of the total cost, ADB is providing 40.5 per cent as loan and 18 per cent as grant to Nepal, while CAAN will bear the remaining cost.
As per Adhikari, other major works have already been completed and currently the contractors are working on blacktopping the runway. Once the infrastructural work is completed, CAAN plans to begin the second phase of the project, which involves installing necessary equipment.
A version of this article appears in print on May 14, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.