A section of the 20-km Sewar-Syuri road which the contractor was supposed to blacktop by May 2020. But authorities say the contractor has not completed even 15 percent work so far, forcing them to scrap the contract. Photo: Dinesh Subedi/Republica
ROLPA, Feb 2: The government has cancelled the contract with Pappu Koshi and Neupane JV Construction Company after the latter failed to give expected results in a road project for repairing a 20-km road in eastern Rolpa. The company has also been slapped a fine of Rs 90 million. According to chief of 'Rural Road Network Repair' project, Moha Dutta Bhatta, the company had been awarded the road project worth Rs 442.3 million.
The project aims to blacktop 388 kilometers of road under 27 road projects in 16 different districts of five provinces by 2023. Bhatta said that the company did not work as per the contract and ignored written inquiries repeatedly, forcing the authorities to take action against it. "The project is a part of a bigger project of widening and blacktopping 388 kilometers of road in different districts. The deadline is 2023. But by looking at the work progress of the company, there was no hope," said Bhatta, adding that they had to fine the company besides scrapping the deal with it.
The 20 kilometers of the road section from Sewar to Syuri is being blacktopped with 80 percent loan provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and 20 percent investment by the government. The contractor had agreed to complete the blacktopping of the road by May 2020. But it has not completed even 15 percent work, according to Bhatta. "The contractor was awarded the project two years ago, and the deadline is near. But not even 15 percent of work has been done. So, the contract was scrapped," he said.
The government cancelled the contract on 25 January. With this, the company is now liable to pay Rs 90 million to the government for 'negligence and loss' it incurred. According to the road department, the government has already released a payment of Rs 49.9 million for the project while the company has shown a balance sheet of Rs 62.5 million. "Other payments could not be released. The company was not working as per the spirit of the deal," said Bhatta. "We had warned then by sending letter, but the company did not pay heed to anything," he added.
Bhatta further stated that the road supposed to be blacktopped by the company is 5.25 meters wide and since the deal has been withdrawn, a new tender process will soon be started.
According to Man Bahadur Khatri, chairperson of the Association of Builders Company, Rolpa, the action taken by the government is a welcome move. This is an encouragement for the companies which work honestly and a warning to others who do not. "There are many companies which go to any extent to win a contract but when it comes to delivering, they are simply dull. This kind of tendency is unfortunate for the entire sector," he noted. "Those who work on time should be awarded and those who show negligence should be punished," he added.
No wonder, the company is upset with the government's action. Saroj Gautam of Pappu Koshi and Neupane JV Construction Company stated that the government's intention is not good.
"This decision by the government is ill-intended. We have approached the court against the decision," he said. "We purchased this company recently when the contract had already been signed," he added.
Gautam stated that the company was not aware of a clause in the agreement that the deal would be scrapped if work is halted for more than 28 days. "The government has cancelled the deal on the same ground. But we were not aware of that. Political leadership in Rolpa has also not shown any interest in the matter even when we are being targeted," he lamented.