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CAAN invites fresh bids for Tribhuvan International Airport expansion works

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Apr 7, 2019-

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has invited fresh bids for the expansion works at Tribhuvan International Airport, three months after deciding to finance the project on its own.

Last December, Tribhuvan International Airport Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project, invited bids for expansion works under the loan of Asian Development Bank but it was abruptly cancelled before the final bid submission deadline on January 22, 2019.

The project decided not to take a loan from the Asian Development Bank saying that its lengthy process would slow the project and eventually push up costs after the funding deadline ended in December 2018. The aviation authority said that if they wait for the Asian Development Bank’s approval, it will take another five months to issue the tender for the project.

The Asian Development Bank had agreed in principle to finance the project through other sources after its deadline ended, but was not sure how long it would take to arrange the fund, said the project officials.

“As a result, the earlier bids for expansion works had to be abruptly cancelled,” he said. “The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal is funding the project now.”

The expansion works is the fourth package of the project and is the most critical component in terms of duration and cost as it will take at least three years to complete. One major component is supplying 2.1 million cubic metres of soil to fill the ravine on the northern side of the airport where 15 new parking bays will be constructed, according to the project. The project includes construction of around 450 metres of taxiway. Fresh bids have been invited on April 2 and the final submission deadline is set for May 17, according to the project.

The Tribhuvan International Airport Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project was broken up into four packages in December 2016 after sending off the original contractor, Spanish company Constructora Sanjose, for non-performance. The other three packages have already been contracted, the project officials said.

“As the project was already delayed by two years, we decided to fund the project as we don’t want further setbacks,” Sanjiv Gautam, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, told the Post recently.

The project hit a snag at the very start as the soil to be used as filler for the expansion of the runway was not available.

Work was held up for a few days after the airport was closed when a Turkish Airlines jet crash-landed in March 2015.

There were further delays due to the 2015 earthquakes and fuel shortages. The project completion deadline was first extended to 2015 and then to 2016, but after that looked unachievable, the date was pushed back to 2020. The revised deadline has now been set for 2021.

The soil filling works were suspended following controversy over the extraction of soil from a holy site.

The previous contractor had removed soil from the Pashupati quarry to use as filler, and a writ was filed at the Supreme Court against it.

The court issued a stay order preventing further removal. The Spanish company then stopped work after having removed 400,000 cubic metres of soil.

According to figures released by the airport, 4.34 million international passengers travelled through the airport last year. That marked an 11.70 percent increase over 2017. Passenger traffic at Nepal’s sole international airport has been growing since 2003, except for an 8 percent drop in 2015 when the country was struck by a severe earthquake.

Published: 07-04-2019 08:12

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