Government defers bid opening process for reconstruction of Dharahara for eighth time

Kathmandu, August 28

Rebuilding of Dharahara - a historical monument that has come to symbolise the devastation caused by the April 25, 2015 earthquake - has faced perennial delays as the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) has deferred the bid opening for its reconstruction for the eighth time already.

The NRA now plans to open the bid on September 2.

The government has been unable to select the contractor for construction of Dharahara since long due to the objection of CICO-Kalika-Rasuwa J/V, which has sought an investigation of the documents provided by another bidder named GIETC-RAMAN J/V.

As per a high-level source at OPMCM, who did not want to be named, GIETC-RAMAN J/V Construction Company had submitted lowest bid of around Rs four billion to construct Dharahara, while CICO-Kalika-Rasuwa J/V had submitted a bid of around Rs five billion. Fearing that it would be disqualified, CICO-Kalika-Rasuwa J/V wrote a letter to OPMCM in July accusing GIETC-RAMAN J/V of submitting fake documents and assigning a fake stamp of the Chinese Embassy on its documents.

After receiving the letter, the OPMCM had asked the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) to investigate the issue and submit a report. The NRA had submitted its report to the OPMCM on August 19, which has not been made public yet.

Rajuman Manandhar, joint secretary at NRA, however divulged that the stamp of the Chinese Embassy that was assigned on documents submitted by GIETC-RAMAN J/V was genuine. “In our correspondence with the Chinese Embassy, the latter has verified that the stamp was in fact genuine,” said Manandhar.

The GIETC-RAMAN J/V is accusing the OPMCM of dilly-dallying the bid opening process.

“We don't understand the rationale behind postponing the bid opening process when NRA's investigation has already been concluded,” said Raman Mahato, director of Raman Construction, further alleging that CICO-Kalika-Rasuwa J/V is using its political clout in its favour.

Chairman of Kalika Construction Company Bikram Pandey is a former minister and Mohan Acharya, vice chairman of Rasuwa Construction, is a sitting Member of Parliament representing Rasuwa district.

The CICO-Kalika-Rasuwa J/V officials, on the other hand, claim the NRA was totally biased when evaluating the technical bid documents.

According to Padam Gurung, procurement head at Kalika Construction, the contract was going to be awarded to GIETC-RAMAN J/V in collusion between NRA officials and Chinese contractor.

Gurung stated that the government needs to form an independent probe committee to look into the matter for a fair and transparent investigation.

NRA had sought applications from interested companies to rebuild Dharahara on May 14. Within the deadline of July 10, six domestic construction companies - in joint venture with foreign firms - had submitted their applications to NRA to rebuild the iconic monument

As per NRA, ZIEC-Lama J/V, CR5CEC-Swachehhanda J/V, Kumar-CFEC J/V, GIETC-Raman J/V and CICO-Kalika-Rasuwa J/V had submitted their bids to rebuild Dharahara. Similarly, another Chinese J/V firm had expressed interest to rebuild the historic monument in joint-venture with a local construction company, but it was rejected straightaway for not fulfilling the NRA guidelines.