•      Mon Sep 25 2023

Bhaktapur-Nagarkot road section contract canceled

Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Narayan Kaji Shrestha inspecting the Nagarkot road section. (Photo: NNA)

Bhaktapur, March 29: The Bhaktapur-Nagarkot road section extension work, which started with the contract agreement to be completed in two years, has been canceled after it was not completed even after the deadline was extended eight times.

The construction of the 15.66 km long Bhaktapur-Nagarkot road section, which was to complete and hand over by Ashad 3, 2073 BS, was signed on Jestha 22, 2071 BS, but the government canceled the contract after it was not completed despite extending the deadline eight times.

On Falgun 18, 2079 BS, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Narayankaji Shrestha and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Naveen Srivastava jointly inspected the condition of the road. At that time, Minister Shrestha warned the contractor to complete the entire construction work within one month.

The Road Improvement and Development Project Directorate under the Department of Roads under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport has issued a notice to cancel the contract. Contractor Sharda Prasad Adhikari’s Shailung Construction, a controversial contractor, and Indian company Aravalli Infrapower Limited signed a contract to jointly construct the road.  After the construction was not completed even after the last extension, the directorate issued a 14-day notice to cancel the contract.

The directorate has issued a public notice against Shailung Construction Company Pvt Ltd and Aravalli Infrapower Limited JV Talchikhel, Sunakothi, who have got the road contract, to report to the office within 14 days if there is any reason not to break the contract.

For the last time, even though the deadline was extended to complete the construction work within the month of Falgun, the work did not progress and despite repeated written and oral instructions from the directorate, no concrete progress was seen.

Nine years have passed since the road expansion work started, even the blacktopped made four to five years ago has been destroyed. The road, which was paved by the contractor, is now dirty and potholed. Although the contract was signed for Rs. 270 million, the cost of this road increased to Rs. 310 million by variation, but the design of this road was changed and it was reduced to Rs. 280 million during the final variation, and the amount has already been received for construction.

Chairman of Nagarkot Naldum Tourism Development Committee, Naveen Gurung said that even though the construction of the road has not been completed for nine years, the tourism business has collapsed here. He said that the tourism business, which is returning to normal after Coronavirus pandemic, has been hit by the dilapidated condition of the roads, and the residents and tourists have to suffer due to the mud in the rain and the dust in winter.

He said that when the construction of the road was stalled, the tourism business and economic development here was pushed back for 15 years, and the information about canceling the contract of those who did not work was positive. Dhan Bahadur Lama, ward Chairman of Changunarayan Municipality-6, Nagarkot, said that even though the people have been protesting since the rainy season, no government has understood the pain of the residents here. He said that even though the local residents and businessmen have pressured the construction of the road by closing the road many times, the construction businessmen on the contrary continue to threaten those who put pressure on them.

Even earlier, Nagarkot residents and businessmen had protested by pasting the photo of Shailung Construction Manager Sharda Prasad Adhikari from the roadside to the public transport, while the ward chairmen of Changunarayan Municipality Ward No. 6 and 7 protested by holding the ward office on the road for three days.

Anup Adhikari, the representative of Shailung Construction, said that there were problems in cutting trees, relocating electric poles and there was some delay due to the earthquake and claimed that 90 percent of the work has been completed. He told Minister Shrestha during the follow-up that if the project cannot be completed and handed over in the next month, he will not go and ask for an extension again and that the government will accept whatever steps are taken.