Nepal | May 27, 2020

Biratnagar airport without X-ray machine for over two months

Rajan Pokhrel
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Hello Sarkar’s response to a complaint about damaged X-ray machine at Biratnagar airport, on twitter. Courtesy: Twitter

Kathmandu, October 10

The country’s second largest airport in Biratnagar has been running without X-ray machine for over two months as unplanned critical electronic equipment outage continues to be the norm at airports across the country.

A Deputy Director General at Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) said it might take a few more months to reinstal X-ray machine in Biratnagar due to lack of spare equipment as well as the lengthy public procurement procedures. “The inability to restore flood damaged X-ray baggage inspection services in Biratnagar airport at peak travel times speaks volumes about the prevailing state of technical management at CAAN,” an airlines manager reacted.

CAAN’s officials also agreed that despite being touted as a core technical department, the inability of CAAN to deliver on its promises and plans has roots going deep into its shrouded culture of generalisation of its disciplines.

According to a senior director at CAAN, absence of certified project management personnel in CAAN’s ranks is clearly manifesting in substandard work and inordinate delays in key areas of civil, electrical and radio engineering.

One can hardly identify an office bearer at the rank of deputy director or above who can confidently state his core area of specialisation. “As a result almost all tasks are purportedly performed by consultants with dubious qualifications as the results reveal, while project managers, or directors simply write cheques.”

Nepal’s engineering schools are yet to acquire a reputation for imparting sound undergraduate or graduate programmes that can cater to the specialised and evolving needs of civil aviation, according to experts.

No wonder technical assistance was sought from the US experts for airport pavement analysis of the sole runway at Tribhuvan International Airport in 2012.

“Sadly, even the routine task of runway maintenance at TIA has become a circus.”

Still holders of master’s degree, often on irrelevant topics, from such schools, have usurped almost all responsible positions within CAAN by mere engineering of the syllabi and regulations, a senior director added.

The windfall, in the name of Asian Development Bank and Chinese government-funded development projects, to the civil engineering discipline has tested the competence of the CAAN ranks and the pain will be felt for quite some time. Absence of certified project management personnel in CAAN’s ranks is clearly manifesting in substandard works and inordinate delays in key areas of civil, electrical and radio engineering, according to him.

“CAAN may for now blame the contractor for all the ills, but it will be a while before it realises the weaknesses within its ranks and does some introspection.”

A version of this article appears in print on October 11, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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