KATHMANDU, April 13: The lack of construction materials due to the lockdown, has hampered the construction work at the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) site that is being upgraded to an international hub at Lumbini.
As the supply of construction materials is limited due to the nationwide lockdown, the project has fallen short on construction materials. “There is very limited stock of construction materials like cement, rods, bricks and even hardware, as suppliers have not supplied construction materials to the construction site due to the lockdown,” said, Prabesh Adhikari, project director at GBIA, “Available resources are being utilized at the site to acquire as much progress as possible.” Works like preparation to install lights at the runway and other works at the terminal are taking place despite the lockdown.
According to the project officials, the project has 80 Nepali and 28 Chinese workers at the site at the moment. The project has signed an agreement to bring river-based materials from Milanchowkghat, ward-11, Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City. “If the materials are not sourced within mid-June, we will have to wait for February, 2021 as the extraction of materials will end in June and will remain shut for eight months,” Adhikari said, adding: “We are coordinating with stakeholders to make the supply possible and easier, we are yet to receive the passes for the operation of supply vehicles.”
Not only has the availability of construction materials impacted the project's progress, the outbreak of the coronavirus in China had impacted the arrival of the technical team needed to install the necessary equipment at the site. The suspension of flights to and from China to contain the spread of COVID-19 has prevented the arrival of the team and even the equipment scheduled to come from China. “It takes at least 12 to 15 days for the shipment of equipment and an average of 1.5 months for installation,” he added.
The project has completed 90% of the construction work so far. The project has acquired 90% physical progress under international competitive bidding (ICB)-01. “7% share for equipment installation and 3% share of civil work is left in the ICB-01 phase,” he said, adding that the ICB-02 consists of machinery work and has not recorded much progress because of the current situation.
The construction work of the project has been categorized into two packages- ICB- 01 and ICB- 02. Construction of airside and landside infrastructures and other facilities at GBIA falls under ICB- 01. Supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of equipment and other related goods and services for GBIA have been tasked under ICB- 02.
Located 20 kilometers away from Lumbini, a popular tourist destination for Buddhists, the operation of the international airport is expected to cater to religious tourists and increase the inflow of international tourists to Nepal. The government has already announced that it will provide incentives to international airlines willing to operate at GBIA.
The project is being constructed with an estimated cost of Rs 6.82 billion. The deadline of the project was extended to March 31, 2020, after it failed to complete the construction work by December 2019. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in December 2017.