Lack of Chinese manpower halts work at hydropower projects

Published On: February 15, 2020 11:06 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Feb 15: The construction works of Khimti-2 Hydroelectric Project and Langtang Khola Hydroelectric Project (HEP) have come to a total halt as Chinese manpower have not returned to work due to the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The company had employed Chinese manpower for the construction of both projects. Project manager at Peoples Energy Limited, Ramhari Sharma said that, the contractor company is in contact with them but the widespread outbreak of coronavirus in China has prevented the Chinese workers from coming back to Nepal. The 48.8 MW Khimti-2 HEP has employed 500 Chinese workers and Langtang Khola HEP (33.5MW) has 200 Chinese working for the project.

The workers who left Nepal to celebrate the Chinese New Year on January 15 were scheduled to report back to their duty on February 3. “The work will resume only after their return,” said Janardan Aryal, general manager at Peoples Energy Limited, “They have said that they will probably be back by the first week of March.”

Khimti-2 is being developed in the border of Ramechhap and Dolakha districts and Langtang in Rasuwa. The projects are being constructed in Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Financing (EPCF) model that requires the contractors to be present in the project while the main construction takes place. According to the project, infrastructure development related works have been completed and only the main construction awaits completion. “Detailed design is complete, construction of roads and transmission lines have been completed,” Aryal told Republica, “Main construction: tunnel digging and excavation is left and the manpower to do that is stuck in China.”

The Khimti-2 project is being built with an investment of US dollar 88 million and for Langtang, the estimated cost for the development of the project is US dollar 33.5 million. Khimti-2 was contracted in 2018 whereas the contract for the Langtang Khola HEP was signed in 2017. The company is set to complete the projects by 2021, however, the delay in the construction is expected to stretch the completion date. Aryal said that the projects can be pushed back by six months. “The project thus will be completed in 2022.”

Khimti-2 is being constructed by Peoples Energy Limited and Langtang Khola HEP is being constructed by Multi Energy Development Pvt Ltd. The contracts for both the projects were awarded to a Chinese company, Chongqing Water Turbine Works (CWTW).

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