NITDB awards contract of Chobhar dry port

Kathmandu, August 18

The Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board (NITDB) has awarded the construction contract of Chobhar dry port.

NITDB — the government agency responsible for the construction and operation of dry ports and integrated check posts — has awarded the contract to an international bidder Aashish joint venture and local bidder Lumbini-Koshi and Neupane joint venture for the construction of the dry port, which is expected to be completed by January-end in 2020.

Works of the dry port will be carried out simultaneously by both the contractors. Aashish joint venture will execute the dry port area — parking lot, shed, warehouse, litigation shed like structures, while the other contractor will construct the portion of administrative building, according to NITDB.

The World Bank Group and NITDB had evaluated the bids simultaneously as the project is funded by the World Bank. Chobhar dry port is one of the components of Nepal-India Regional Trade and Transport Project. Construction cost of the dry port is estimated to hover at $22 million.

The NITDB has a long-term plan to develop an international exhibition venue (IEV) close to the dry port, as there is sufficient land there. The government acquired 1,054 ropanis of land of Himal Cement and 200 ropanis of plain land will be occupied by the dry port. The IEV is not a component of the project.

The construction process of the dry port is to commence one-and-a-half years behind the initial schedule, as it took a long time to transfer the land ownership to Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies because land registration certificate had been misplaced. Without any government decision, Department of Forest had handed over some portions of Himal Cement covered by the forest to the community forest and locals had also encroached the land as it was not taken care of by the government after closure of Himal Cement Factory, as per Laxman Bahadur Basnet, executive director at NITDB.

“After tracking the evidences from the old documents at the Department of Survey and other old testimonies, we were able to transfer the ownership of land to MoICS with the updated land map.”

The World Bank Group (WBG) had nearly dropped the project owing to the delay in transfer of land ownership. However, NITDB managed to convince WBG and has expressed commitment to complete the project within the stipulated timeframe, that is, beginning of 2020. “With only 18 months in our hands, we will be working on a very tight schedule,” said Basnet. “NITDB will carefully monitor the progress during project implementation. To expedite the construction works, the foundation stone laying ceremony will be carried out soon.”

Chobhar dry port will reduce the traffic congestion at Inland Clearance Depot, Birgunj and other ICDs at the bordering towns as the containers can directly be ferried to Chobhar with the help of electronic cargo tracking system (ECTS) and the customs clearance process will be carried out at Chobhar dry port. Chobhar dry port is strategically important for cost-effective improvement in supply system of industrial raw materials for Kathmandu Valley-based industries.

“Around 40 per cent of the country’s trade takes place to and from Kathmandu Valley and neighbouring districts,”

as per Basnet. “Chobhar dry port is linked with the proposed Kathmandu-Tarai fast track, which also has the potential to be linked by rail, as the government is planning to develop a railway from Birgunj to Kathmandu.”

It is reported that the dry port at Chobhar will be equipped with warehouses, parking lot, litigation shed, administrative buildings for customs, quarantine, bank and other required facilities for customs clearance. Similarly, the office of the NITDB will also be built there.

The dry port will have the capacity to accommodate 626 containers of 20-foot each, parking facility for 205 trucks, loading and unloading facilities, and six warehouses, according to NITDB. The depot has been designed to cope with traffic flow till 2039, based on the current import and export scenario.