Passengers face delay at TIA

Kathmandu, October 31

Passengers arriving from different countries at Tribhuvan International Airport have had to wait for more than three hours to collect their baggage.

Apparently, this is due to the million-dollar airport improvement project, which removed a conveyor belt on the eve of the festive season when the country’s sole international airport witnesses huge influx of passengers.

TIA’s General Manager Devananda Upadhyaya agreed that the airport authority has been facing a hard time releasing passengers’ baggage after Asian Development Bank-funded Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project dismantled one of the three functional conveyor belts at TIA. “Passengers who used to wait less than an hour, now have to queue for more than three hours to claim their baggage,” he told this daily.

Passengers had to face difficulty due to delayed luggage reclamation after Airport Customs decided to scan luggage before putting them on conveyor belts. They also removed the red and green channels from the exit point. Now, the ongoing ATCE Project, costing US$ 4.2 million, has added another burden to TIA, which was declared a deficient airport by the worldwide federation of Airline Pilots Associations for several reasons.

The airport authority doesn’t know how much arriving passengers suffer at TIA, which handles at least 30 incoming international flights daily.

The project management reported that its equipment was stuck at Kolkata in India for over a month,” Upadhyaya said.

Though instructions from different agencies have often gathered dust at TIA, the aviation regulatory body has constituted a two-member committee led by CAAN Deputy Director General Surya Bahadur Thapa to probe the untimely decision to remove the conveyor belt.

ATCEP’s decision to remove a conveyor belt also coincides with a CAAN’s decision to change the TIA boss. “The move somehow was guided by ill-intention as CAAN had replaced outgoing GM Birendra Prasad Shrestha with Upadhyaya before Dashain,” a TIA official claimed.

According to him, a conveyor belt was removed without making any alternative arrangement in the name of meeting the project deadline.

According to CAAN officials, apart from the introduction of purportedly advanced systems for automation and meteorology that continued to be in the news for the wrong reasons, under the same ADB loan for ATCEP, in 2013-14, none of the projects have met the deadlines especially the International Competitive Bidding-I and the ATCEP.