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Chinese state firm wins bid for Kathmandu airport project

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A Chinese state-owned company has won the bid to build key infrastructure at the Tribhuvan International Airport that had been left in limbo for the last three years causing severe congestion at the country’s sole international airport.

According to the airport authority, China National Aero Technology International Engineering Corporation, a state-owned enterprise specializing in building airports, has emerged as the lowest bidder to construct the facility.

“We will formally sign an agreement with the company soon,” said Murari Bhandari, chief of the airport upgradation project under the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

The company quoted Rs 6.92 billion for the project. The scope of the project includes supply of 2.1 million cubic metres of soil for filling the ravine on the northern side of the runway where 15 new international parking bays are to be constructed.

The project, which would take at least three years to complete, also includes construction of around 450 metres of taxiway on the northern side.

It’s the same company that completed the runway and taxiway rehabilitation of the Tribhuvan International Airport, recently, before the stipulated deadline, said Bhandari.

“As the company has most of the equipment as well as the manpower, we expect that the project will begin soon,” he said.

“Due to the delay in works, the cost of the project has increased,” he said, adding that the project’s increased cost is currently under evaluation. The cost increased after the previous contractor, a Spanish company—Constructora Sanjose—was fired for non-performance.

Consequently, the completion date for the first phase of the Tribhuvan International Airport improvement project had to be pushed back to 2022. It was originally scheduled to be completed by March 2016.

The $92-million project, jointly funded by the government ($12 million) and the Asian Development Bank ($80 million in loan and grant), and implemented on December 6, 2010, is one of the longest duration projects of the Asian Development Bank.

The bank closed its funding for the first phase after the project crossed a 10-year period in December 2018. The multilateral funding agency has since been studying a fresh funding modality for 2020, according to officials at the civil aviation body.

The airport improvement project, now known as Tribhuvan International Airport Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project, was broken up into four packages in December 2016 after sending off the original contractor. The other three packages have already been contracted, the project officials said.

According to figures released by the airport, 4.34 million international passengers travelled through the airport in 2018. That marked an 11.70 percent increase over 2017. The figure shows that Tribhuvan International Airport handled 11,898 international travelers daily in 2018.

Similarly, domestic airlines flew 2.84 million passengers in 2018, up 19.22 percent from the 2017 figure.

(Source- The Kathmandu Post)

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