An artist’s sketch of the Fruits and Flower Mega Market at Chovar, Kathmandu. Photo: Kfvmdb Handout/Republica
KATHMANDU, Feb 24: Locals are not assured that the Fruits and Flower Mega Market at Chovar will be completed even in the new deadline.The deadline for construction work of the mega wholesale market of fruits and flowers is end of May, which is only 14 weeks away. The contractor has dilly-dallied in building construction of the market that is spread in 23 ropani land, claiming shortage of construction materials.
But the underlying reason behind the contractors’ attempt to delay the project is high price of construction materials currently, knowledgeable sources said.
Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board (KFVMDB) owns the market based in Kirtipur Municipality.
“Many construction projects in the country such as the Melamchi Drinking Water Project itself have not been completed on the designated time, and I see this one as no difference as contractors and workers alike are taking their own jolly time to complete construction work,” said a local residing near the construction site. He further added, “The project will not be completed even in a year’s time considering the current pace of work.”
Sundari Maharjan, whose residence happens to be in front of the construction site, is skeptical that the construction work will be complete within the set deadline of May 31, 2018. “Construction work is not done regularly. With the work being conducted at a snail pace, the work is sure to pass the said deadline,” she said.
Another local resident, Nachhi Bahadur Maharjan, explained: “Although preliminary works were started more than a year ago, not much work has been completed considering that the buildings will be several stories tall, and I do not think it is feasible to complete the work in such a small span of time.”
“It appears that the contractors have multiple contracts on hand at the same time and thus have not focused on this project well,” Maharjan added.
While locals have been frustrated with the pace of work being completed, the pressure on the World Bank funded organization -- Project for Agriculture Commercialization and Trade (PACT) -- has been immense with the project completion deadline just around the corner.
“Previously, we had the deadline for project completion on December 31, 2017. We were able to extend it until the end of May 2018. With the current pace of work, this deadline is sure to be overrun. The funding for this project by the World Bank lasts only up till the end of June and we must complete a majority of the work by then,” stated PACT director Dr Govinda Prasad Sharma.
“The contractors have been seeking excuse for the delay citing problems in purchase and transport of construction materials,” explained Sharma. Many construction materials such as steel rod need to be brought from India, and the contractors blame it to either obstruction at the border or short supply in India itself.
In the meantime, prices of construction materials increased by 25 to 30 percent in Nepal in recent months, according to Sharma.
“The lack of construction materials has hit hard on the pace of work,” said Suraj Shah, engineer at the construction site. “We cannot predict when the construction will be complete until the required construction materials such as plywood, rods and cement are adequately supplied.”
Labor Contractor, Birendra Prasad Chaudhary at the Fruit and Flowers Mega Market site stated “The work here requires only six months of dedication with a nonstop supply of construction materials, as of now we are unsure of the completion time without the right circumstances.” This time however is way over the time PACT has to complete the project with just around four months left to complete the construction work.
With not even a quarter of work complete as of now, PACT aims to complete most of the construction work by the end of June under WB funding. “We aim to complete most of the work by the set deadline, and the Ministry of Agriculture Development has agreed to make sure that what remains is completed under its own funding,” said PACT project director Sharma.
The construction site for the Fruits and Vegetable Mega-Market at Chovar. Photo: Ayam Shrestha/Republica