KATHMANDU, June 25: Delays and dilly-dallying in infrastructure projects had stopped to some extent following strong moves taken by Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa against construction entrepreneurs.
But the nation-wide campaign of collecting list of contractors, who have walked away after pocketing mobilization fund, has ended abruptly without any clear reason.
Home Minister Thapa and Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth, who recently held a meeting, have reached to an agreement that only Mahaseth will take action against contractors.
This implies that Thapa, who has already collected details of non-performing contractors from 70 districts via concerned District Administration Offices, has stopped the process of taking action against non-performing contractors.
Home ministry Spokesperson Ram Krishna Subedi told Republica that the two ministers last week decided that Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) will take action against the non-performing contractors and the home ministry will provide assistance only when sought by the MoPIT.
This clearly indicates that the action initiated by the home ministry against the non-performing contractors has come to an abrupt end. Such act will only encourage those contractors to restrain law-enforcing agencies.
Before flying to China last week, Minister Mahaseth had said that he was not aware of the arrest of any contractors and vowed to protect contractors, indicating that he was not happy with the moves of the home minister, said MoPIT officials who talked to Republica last week.
Following the home ministry’s crackdown against non-performing contractors, construction entrepreneurs were lobbying hard for protection with senior leaders of political parties. But the development of events in recent days, including regular meeting of big contractors with Mahaseth, led to the change.
Issuing a press statement on Thursday, Federation of Contractors’ Association of Nepal welcomed a statement of the home ministry which stated that the home ministry will take action on the issue only if it is requested by MoPIT.
This is the second controversial decision Minister Mahaseth has taken since he assumed office. Earlier, Mahaseth had transferred director general of the Department of Transport Management Rup Narayan Bhattarai, who had launched a campaign against a cartel in public transportation.
Mahaseth is reportedly mulling over lifting a ban on public vehicles older than 20 years to serve interest of transport entrepreneurs, according to MoPIT. The minister plans to allow such vehicles to operate outside Kathmandu Valley.