Construction of Nepal's first expressway to start soon

Published On: February 23, 2017 01:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Feb 23: The government is starting construction of Nepal's first expressway very soon, according to Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak.

Speaking at the meeting of Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday, Minister Lekhak said that he would forward the proposal to start construction of the Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway in the cabinet very soon.

He also told the parliamentary committee that the government would set up a special purpose vehicle to build the expressway as per the report of the Study Committee led by National Planning Commission (NPC) vice chairperson Min Bahadur Shrestha. 

The committee led by Shrestha has recommended to the government set up a separate mechanism for construction of the expressway.

Minister Lekhak also informed parliamentarians that the government would own the Detailed Project Report (DPR) prepared by the Indian Company. 

The Indian firm which prepared the DPR has sought Rs 600 million from the government for the DPR. 

The 76-km expressway that connects Kathmandu with Tarai in just an hour can be split into at least two sections to procure contract services, the study committee has suggested. It has also suggested awarding contracts on Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) modality.

The government has planned to construct the highway by allocating around Rs 20 billion every year for five years.

Speaking at the discussion, parliamentarian Bishnu Poudel asked the government to start the construction of the highway without further delay according to the previous government's plan. "The previous government had also allocated some budget for the expressway," he added.

However, the National Pride Project has not been able to spend its budget due to various technical problems including dispute in compensation for land to be acquired for the project.

The erstwhile government led by KP Sharma Oli had allocated Rs 10 billion for the project in the current fiscal year. But the budget has not been spent at all because of the delay in finalizing project development and financing modality.

Though the earlier estimated cost was lower, the Indian company estimated the cost at around Rs 111 billion, raising many eyebrows.

The construction of the expressway has to be expedited as it will be a milestone in the country's transportation network and can cut transportation cost, fuel consumption and time taken for transporting goods and traveling significantly, the committee concluded.

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