Multi-million dollar TIA project set to miss deadline

Kathmandu, December 30


A multi-million dollar project of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal is all set to miss its completion deadline raising a serious question over the capability of aviation regulatory body, as well as other stakeholders, including the funding agency the Asian Development Bank - that are directly involved in the execution of the project.

According to the latest progress report prepared by the Tribhuvan International Airport Improvement Project Directorate, the three-year-long project worth US$ 80 million, which also exceeds the estimated cost for the construction of second international airport, has made a progress of less than 20 per cent while the project completion deadline expires in three months.

The project under the International Competitive Bidding-01 has failed to complete its task on time, as the Spanish contractor - Constructora Sanjose - has not been working for long citing unavailability of construction materials, states the report prepared by Acting Project Director Dipendra Shrestha. “Only 30 per cent of the total fund has been utilised in more than 80 per cent of the project duration.”

According to report, the overall progress of all components of the ADB-funded Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project worth US$150 million is just 30 per cent.

Most of the CAAN’s officials admitted that the investment at TIA was made without doing cost benefit analysis to squander away foreign grant and loan.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviationwarned CAAN about the failure to execute the ADB-funded project. “CAAN should terminate its contract if Sanjose refused to mend its ways,” he said commenting on the CAAN’s progress report.

Deputy Director General Mahendra Singh Rawal, who is responsible to monitor and supervise CAAN’s projects, claimed that the regulatory-cum-service providing body would summon Sanjose and other concerned to fix the problem as soon as possible.

The project was expected to upgrade TIA’s capacity to handle more than 5.85 million passengers annually by 2015 with the completion of project components, such as enlargement of the runway, construction of new taxiways, extension of the apron, new lighting in the airfield, reform and expansion of the international terminal, installation of new system of carriage of baggage and several civil works and associated facilities.

Out of ADB’s total assistance in ICB-01, US$70 million was provided as loan and US$ 10 million as grant.

Once all the infrastructure, buildings and engineering work are completed, TIA will allow landing of bigger aircraft and tonnage while its apron will accommodate around 20 Boeing 757 aircraft, according to the project document.

“But CAAN’s investment has not delivered any output, as TIA has been ranked as the world’s worst airport by different global aviation agencies year after year,” an aviation expert told THT.