EXIM Bank positive about construction of Pokhara Airport
KATHMANDU, Oct 8: China based EXIM (Export-Import) Bank has asked the Nepal government to speed up the process to select the bidder for the construction of proposed Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA) amid delay to implement the much touted project over the controversy on project cost.
A Nepali delegation that visited China recently in a bid to resolve the problems, briefed Tourism Ministry and Finance Ministries about the outcome of visit stating that the Chinese officials were positive to construct the airport irrespective of the high cost of the project.
The works on the project was halted after the lowest bidder quoted more than 85 percent higher than the government´s earlier estimation.
China CAMC, the lowest bidder had quoted US $ 305 million for PRIA against the government estimation of US $ 165 million.
The delegation led by Yagya Gautam, Tourism Secretary, had left for the northern neighbor to resolve the issue of high cost and procedural complexities on the implementation of the project. The delegation had, among other high ranking Chinese officials, met one of the vice-presidents of EXIM Bank during the visit.
“The EXIM Bank is positive about the construction and has shown flexibility to work in line with the legal requirement of Nepal.” Gautam.
Gautam, however, said that the government is soon going to sign an agreement with Chinese officials to pave the way to implement the project which would be acceptable to both sides.
“The visit was very fruitful and the remaining issues on procedures will be resolved once the pact is signed soon,” he added.
According to a Tourism Ministry official, the Chinese officials also said they would not object to any decision of Nepal government to award contract to any bidder.
“Construction process will begin once we sign the pact,” said Gautam.
Tourism Ministry officials said a bidder is selected before the formal signing of the loan agreement, under Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) model that has been proposed by the Chinese side for the execution of the project. However, as per the Public Procurement Act in Nepal, the selection process can begin only after the loan agreement.
“Existing confusion on which model to be followed in the proposed project will be resolved once the pact is inked,” he added.
Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had invited bid for the execution of the project on February 9, 2012. Although the government was schedule to sign loan agreement with EXIM Bank by August after selection a contractor, the controversy of the high cost halted the project.
Angered by the project delay, locals of Pokhara have been staging protests from mid-August to exert the pressure for timely construction of the airport.