NEA awards tender to lay underground cables in Valley

Kathmandu, February 24

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has awarded the tender to lay underground electric cables in Kathmandu Valley in a bid to both minimise the risk of electric shocks and maintain urban beauty.

An Indian contractor company, KP Industries Ltd, has been selected to implement the project. It made the lowest bid among companies that had shown interest to carry out the work, as per NEA.

The power utility informed that areas covered by the Maharajgunj Distribution Centre and Ratnapark Distribution Centre have been chosen for the first phase to lay electric cables underground in the Valley.

The contractor has won the project worth Rs 1.17 billion and $25.5 million excluding taxes for the Maharajgunj section and the Ratnapark

segment for Rs 831.5 million and $22.9 million excluding taxes. The total cost of the first phase of the project has been estimated at Rs 6.60 billion.

As per NEA, the contractor will have to complete the first phase of the project within 30 months from the date of the project being started.

In June 2017, NEA had said it would place all physical infrastructure of areas that fall under Maharajgunj and Ratnapark distribution centres underground within two years as a pilot project. NEA is implementing the project with funding from Asian Development Bank’s soft loan assistance worth $150 million under Power Extension and Distribution Capacity Increment Project.

During the first phase, the project will be implemented in Bagbazar, Asan, Durbar Marg, Baluwatar, Gongabu and Samakhushi areas. Once the first phase of project is completed, around 9,000 electricity clients of both centres will get smart meters, which will replace the existing meters.

After the project is implemented it is expected to reduce the number of accidents that occur due to unplanned urban structures. The government has launched the project as power leakage and risk of accidents have been rising due to lack of timely reform in power supply system in the Capital for the past two decades.

NEA has said the contractor company will lay the electricity cables underground using a method called ‘Horizontal Directional Drilling’. This method does not require digging and damaging the road surface, which in turn will prevent air pollution. This method is being used in Nepal for the first time.

The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation has stated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has also committed to support the project with loan worth Rs 10 billion.

The NEA had published the notice about the tender results on February 6 and the selected company had been asked to contact NEA with the required documents within 28 days of the notice being issued.

Meanwhile, Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) — regulator of the telecom sector — has also said that it will manage overhead telecommunication cables. It has plans to coordinate with NEA to lay telecommunication cables underground. NTA had allocated Rs 20 billion for the purpose in the last fiscal but was unable to do anything in this regard.