KATHMANDU, July 14: The contract agreement for the construction of the tunnel way connecting Basnet Chhap near Nepal Oil Corporation's depot at Thankot and Sisne Khola of Naubise will be inked by the next month.
The government is planning to start the construction from October.
The government has accepted the financial and technical proposal of Hajma and Ando JV, a Japanese construction company, for the construction of the tunnel way. Arjun Jung Thapa, head of foreign co-operation branch at the Department of Roads, said that the contract agreement will be signed soon.
“We are now waiting for the agreement paper from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). As soon as we get it, the agreement between the government and the construction company will be signed,” he said, adding that the construction work will start from October. “Internal preparations are underway.”
According to him, JICA has prepared the design of the tunnel way. “The roads to start construction of the tunnel way will open if the agreement is inked,” he said. JICA has publicized the 3D visual design of the tunnel way.
The government has set the target to complete and bring the 2.35-kilometer-long tunnel way into operation by 2022. It takes more than two hours to travel from Naubise of Dhading to Nagdhunga of Kathmandu currently. With the construction of the tunnel way, the distance can be travelled within seven minutes.
The tunnel way should be connected to the Tribhuvan Highway by building a 2.25-kilometer-long access road. Nepal government and the Japanese government have already signed an agreement regarding the construction of the tunnel way.
“The congestion due to traffic jam caused by the vehicles entering Kathamandu has necessitated the construction of the tunnel way,” he said. “Though the investment is huge, it is cost effective in the long run.”
The Japanese government has agreed to lend loans at 0.01% interest rate to Nepal for the construction of the tunnel way, according to Thapa. The tunnel way will consist of three lanes, of which two lanes will be used for vehicular movement and the remaining lane will be used to keep vehicles needing maintenance.
Shiva Hari Sapkota, spokesperson at the Department of Roads, said that the tunnel way was necessary to manage traffic in the highway and to save fuel. “The number of vehicles entering Kathmandu is increasing in recent years and the vehicles using longer route consume more fuel,” said Sapkota. “The tunnel way is a must for easy access to the Kathmandu Valley. While the cost of construction may seem high, it will provide more economic benefits in the long run,” he added.
The government has allocated Rs 6.27 billion in the upcoming fiscal year to build the tunnel. The department had received bids for construction from five companies. The Japanese firm has won the bid at a price Rs 700 million lower than the government estimate. The estimated cost of the project stands at Rs 16 billion. The detailed project report has already been finalized. The project will affect 267 ropani of land, of which 33 ropani will be provided by the government.