Postal Highway Project: Construction work comes to halt with non-payment issues in Birgunj

BIRGUNJ: The widening work of road section from Birgunj to Sedhawa has come to a halt since the Postal Highway Project has withheld the payment of bills.

The construction company engaged in the road widening project stated that the work came to halt due to lack of sources as the Postal Highway Directorate has withheld the payment of dues for about a year. The bills should have been cleared within one month from when the bills were submitted.

Although the road construction had been carried out during the lockdown period, the payment has been withheld due to misunderstanding between the project and consulting firm/JV, according to project manager Sushil Thakur at Pappu Construction Company. The company has claimed that 45 per cent of the total work had been completed before lockdown and 20 per cent of the work during the lockdown.

The construction company has yet to receive a total of Rs 110 million in dues that it has asked to pay, submitting two bills one year ago and another one about five months ago. The project undertaken with the financial assistance from the government of India has come to a halt due to non-payment issues.

It has been reported that the Postal Highway Directorate and the consulting firm, National Highway & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited have been blaming each other for the non-payment issues. As a result, the construction company has landed in an awkward situation.

An officer at the consulting firm based in Birgunj, Bapun Behra said that his duty was just to recommend the payment and that he was unaware of what was going on. Meanwhile the construction company has alleged the officer of withholding the payment of bill amounting Rs 70 million that was submitted in March.

Likewise, payment for two of the bills recommended by the consulting firm has also been withheld by the Postal Highway Directorate. Although the construction company has urged the directorate for the payment it has not paid attention, it has been reported.

There is a provision that the payment should be made within 30 days from the date when the bill was submitted, as per the Public Procurement Act and contract agreement.

Although the construction of 30-kilometre road from Pratimachok in Birgunj to Sedhawa has started from June 2017 under a contract to complete the project within 30 months, the project has yet to clear roadside obstacles even when the deadline has already crossed, the construction company stated.