SIRAHA, Feb 4: Locals of Siraha have ended their 33-day long relay hunger strike on Saturday after the government reportedly awarded the contract to construct two vital brides over the Kamala and Balan rivers along the Postal Highway in the district to new construction companies.
The locals, who were demanding the government to scrap the agreement signed with Pappu Construction for the delay in completing the projects, ended the strike after the government agreed to their demand.
While attending a program in the district on Saturday, Prime Minister KP Oli had said that the government has already scrapped the agreement with Pappu Construction and has decided to hand the project to new companies.
Following the PM's announcement, Kalyani Khadka, head of the parliament's Development and Technology Committee, expressed commitment to punish Pappu Construction and complete the projects within a year.
“Although late, the government approached us and assured us to complete the projects within a year. This has raised hope among the locals of the remote villages,” said Ramrijhan Yadav, coordinator of Postal Highway Struggle Committee.
At the function organized in Siraha, PM Oli had assured to inaugurate both the Kamala and Balan river bridges.
“The contractor awarded to complete the bridges over Kamala and Balan rivers deceived us,” PM Oli told the mass gathered in Siraha, adding, “So, we scrapped the contract with the previous contractor and the new ones have committed in writing to complete the task within a year.”
The prime minister said he will come to Siraha to inaugurate both the bridges on April 15, 2020.
“Now onward, the construction of the Postal Highway will be completed in time,” said PM Oli.
Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transportation Raghubir Mahaseth informed that the government has already scrapped the contract with Pappu Construction Company.
Lumbini JV has been awarded the contract to construct the bridge over the Kamals River whereas Sharma JV has been chosen as the construction company to build the bridge over Balan River.
“Both the companies have committed in writing to complete the construction within mid-April 2020,” said Minister Mahaseth, adding, “The government is working seriously to build the Postal Highway which is considered as the lifeline of Madhesi people,” said Minister Mahaseth.
Pappu Construction was awarded the contract to construct the 470-meter long Balan Bridge some eight years ago with the mandate of completing the project in August 2015. But the slow pace of construction had disappointed the locals.
The company, which was asked to complete the project worth Rs 241 million, didn't complete the project despite term extension for two times.
Manoj Kumar Mandal, an engineer assigned to oversee the project, said the construction company is yet to complete more than 50 percent of the total work although it has already received Rs 155 million from the government.
Pappu Lumbini JV was awarded to construct the 470 meters long Kamala Bridge and the company was assigned to complete the task within mid-December 2014. Although the company has already taken Rs 281 million from the government for the project, the work remains incomplete.