KATHMANDU, Oct 12: Government officials have claimed that construction work of Gautam Buddha International Airport Project is now moving at a satisfactory pace.
Speaking at a meeting of the parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Jitendra Narayan Dev, said that the Chinese contractor of the project, Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group, has expedited construction work following warning by the ministry that the contract could be terminated if it failed to make substantial progress.
Construction works of the national pride project were halted since March following dispute over payment between Chinese contractor and a Nepali firm that it subcontracted -- Northwest Infra Nepal.
Nirbhik Khanal, son of former Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal, is the promoter of Northwest Infra Nepal.“
"The Chinese contractor has resumed its works in line with our instructions. The work progress is satisfactory now," added Dev.
Dev also informed the house panel that the Chinese contractor has increased the number of workers and equipment required to expedite construction works at the project site.
The government had threatened to terminate contract with the Chinese firm after the latter halted construction works instead of ramping up works to meet the performance target.“
"We decided to give a benefit of doubt to the Chinese contractor instead of scrapping the contract. So, we instructed it to mobilize at least 200 workers in the project site as well as arrange needful equipment to expedite construction works within a we”k," Dev said, adding“: "Its performance is getting satisfactory now."
Maheswor Neupane, secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, also told the parliamentary panel that the ministry was satisfied with the recent performance of the Chinese contractor“. "It has increased the number of workers, utilized the equipment, and changed the project management. However, we cannot be fully confident that there won't be slackness in the work in the coming da”s," he added.
The government officials, however, said that they have instructed the Chinese contractor to settle payment dispute with the subcontractor on its own“. "As the subcontractor was appointed illegally, the Chinese contractor should settle the payment dispute on its o”n," he added“
"We have told the Chinese contractor that it cannot put blame on others and avoid it works. The sword of contract termination will always hang over it's head," Neupane added.
Following a dispute over payment with the subcontractor, the Chinese firm had stopped its work on the project site, stating that the subcontracting firm has seized all its equipment.
However, representatives of the subcontractor say that the Chinese contractor owes them payment worth over Rs 600 million“. "These equipment belong to us. We cannot release them as we are yet to receive our payment from the contract”r," Nirbhik Khanal of Northwest Infra Nepal told Republica.