Nepal | January 17, 2021

Nagdhunga tunnel construction begins in full swing amid COVID-19 crisis

Mausam Shah Nepali
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KATHMANDU: In spite of facing many challenges corresponding to the Nagdhunga tunnel connecting Sisnekhola in Dhading with Kispidi in Thankot, the Department of Roads (RoR) has begun the construction in full swing amid the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the Department’s Senior Divisional Engineer and Nagdhunga Tunnel Project Director Nareshman Shakya, works are being carried out in a war-footing at Nagdhung side to commence digging of the tunnel.

Around five hundred personnel have been deployed at the site for construction of the underpass near the tunnel and a flyover connecting the tunnel to main highway in Nagdhunga.

“Digging of tunnel at Sisnekhola site had begun before Dashain. However, the work was halted after Butwal workshop failed to dispatch steel portal frame on time after it was shut down following detection of COVID-19 in employees,” Shakya shared, adding that the steel was imported from Japan itself and sent to Butwal for framing.

As soon as we install the steel portal frame — gate of the tunnel with artificial ground freezing (AGF) — which usually takes two week to set, we will commence digging, Shakya shared.

However, locals have come up with unpractical demands and obstructed project as a result of which the contractor tabled an overhead bill of Rs 5.8 million to the government, despite it being one of the national pride projects, Nagdhunga Project Chief Shakya lamented.

“In-coordination with the local representatives, we have tried to address their issues and forwarded their demands to the concerned authorities. We have also requested the locals to approach the DoR rather then obstruct the work,” he added.

The project director stressed that the government is committed to complete the project at any cost.

“We could achieve a breakthrough within a year if we don’t face any disturbances at the construction site,” Director General Arjun Jung Thapa at the Department of Roads (DoR) said.

The tunnel will stretch as far as 2.7 kilometres with 12 metre-width and eight-metres height.

Shivahari Sapkota, Spokesperson of the Department of Roads (DoR) said, the government has also initiated process for the tunnel construction at Siddhababa-Dovan road section along Siddhartha Highway in Palpa district adjacent to Butwal and Lamabagar area in Dolakha district.

Japan’s Hajma Ando Corporation was awarded the contract for Rs 13.5 billion for the construction of project, the completion of which was due within 42 months.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had laid the foundation stone of the project on November 10, 2019.

Photo courtesy: Nagdhunga Tunnel Project Director, Nareshman Shakya.

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