KATHMANDU, Dec 5: Patan High Court on Sunday issued an interim order against the contract award process for expanding the Kanchanpur-Kamala road, citing discrepancy in the eligibility criteria for contract bidders .
A division bench of judges Shekhar Prasad Paudel and Ramesh Kumar Pokhrel issued the interim order and called for a further review .
The 87-km road project estimated to cost Rs 17 billion is to be constructed with loan financing by the Asian Development Bank.
Raman Construction Pvt Ltd, a Nepali private contractor, had filed a writ petition at the High Court, questioning the construction experience requirement stipulated in the contract notice published on September 12 .
The deadline for contract submission has already expired.
The court has said that it has found discrepancy between the construction experience required for bidding for the contract and the experience requirement mentioned in the standard bidding document of the ADB.
The ADB standard bidding document has clearly stated that domestic companies should get preference in eligibility for making contract bids. However, Nepali contractors for this project are being deprived of participation in the tender bid, according to the interim order.
ADB has made it mandatory for a contractor to have completed one single project worth above Rs 2 billion, but no Nepali contractor has so far built a road of that scale.
The court has asked the Project Directorate ADB to put the contract process on hold until a further review . The court also said it has sought a written answer from the Project Directorate ADB and also the Public Procurement Monitoring Office .
The plaintiff has claimed that the work experience clause in the qualification for tender bids is discriminatory against Nepali contractors.
Last week, the Federation of Contractors Association of Nepal (FCAN) accused the government and ADB of preventing Nepali contractors from participation in at least two multi-billion road projects. FCAN said not a single domestic contractor can meet the work experience of having executed a road project of the scale demanded by ADB in its bid qualification requirements.
FCAN President Rabi Singh claimed that the government has never awarded a contract to a single contractor worth that amount .
Only foreign companies have been found eligible for the expansion of the Butwal-Narayangadh road section and a Chinese company has already been notified of the intention to enter into contract agreement for both packages of the project. The project is worth Rs 18 billion and it is also financed by the ADB .
In response to queries by Republica, ADB's Kathmandu office said that all ADB assisted projects in Nepal are implemented in accordance with the loan agreements signed between ADB and the Nepal Government.
“Bidding is open to all qualified national and international bidders. Both projects also include a domestic preference factor to promote the development of the domestic contracting industry,” said the ADB in an email response.