Delay in consultant selection hampers Laukahi-Kakarvitta road project progress

Published On: February 16, 2024 07:19 PM NPT By: Bhuwan Sharma

KATHMANDU, Feb 16: Four months after awarding the contract, the delay in selecting a consultant for the Laukahi-Kakarvitta road upgradation project, worth Rs 40 billion, has caused a dilemma regarding the timely completion of work.

There is a legal provision that the consultant must be selected before the contract is signed. The  consultant is responsible for administrative tasks, construction monitoring, evaluation and bill verification. Therefore, contract agreement and consultant selection should be done at the same time.

The delay in selecting a consultant has thrown the construction into disarray. On October 19, China Railway First Group Company Limited and China Overseas Engineering Group signed a Rs 40 billion contract to upgrade the Laukahi-Kakarvitta road (95.76 km) to four lanes under the East-West Highway, with the help of concessional loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Nepali partners of this project include Tundi Construction and Kalika Construction, and the project comprises five packages, including the construction of three bridges.

According to sources, the Chinese contractor company is prepared to start the work within a week, but the consultant’s delayed selection has caused confusion. Project Chief Chudaraj Dhakal said that the consultant would be selected within a month. He said that now the process for selecting the consultant will begin soon.

Information Officer Bijay Mahato said that the consultant would be selected upon receiving the no objection letter from ADB's headquarters in Manila. “We have completed all the work and sent it to the head office of the ADB. As soon as the ADB sends the no objection letter, we will make an agreement with the consultant,” he said.

In the selection of consultants, the interests of the secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and the higher officials are conflicting. According to the project sources, this is the reason why the selection of the consultant has been delayed. The ADB has opened financial proposals for consultants, with 23 consultancies initially applying, and six companies shortlisted.  EOI (Expression of Interest) and RFP (Request for Proposal) have also been invited for the selection of consultants.

In the Laukahi-Kakarvitta road project, only two percent PC (Percentage of Commission) amounts to Rs 400 million. With 30 to 40 percent of the budget of Rs 1.30 billion allocated for the consultant, conflicting interests among high officials of the ministry have complicated the selection process of the consultant. According to sources, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Prakash Jwala is also interested in this matter.

According to the ministry, some of the consultants selected in the shortlist have complained to the authority and ADB headquarters, alleging irregularities in the selection process. Therefore, it is said that more confusion has arisen in the selection of consultants.

Similarly, lobbying efforts by firms like Geocom International Pvt Ltd and Environment and Resource Management Consultants (ERMC) Pvt Ltd have been reported. 


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