My Republica, February 04, 2020
House panel tells government to rebuild strategic bridges that are in dire straits
KATHMANDU: The parliamentary Development and Technology Committee on Monday directed the government for revising project design process to ensure timely construction of bridges that have remained affected for a long time due to faults in design.
The house panel asked the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to implement 'design and build' model for such projects. Likewise, the government authority has also been asked to immediately initiate the process for rebuilding strategic bridges that are in dire straits.
Likewise, the government authority has also been asked to manage necessary funds to complete construction of bridges that have not made any process due to lack of financial resources.
According to the committee, with number of hassles in place, only 41% of allocated budget worth around Rs 8 billion has been spent over the first half of the current fiscal year. The records of the Department of Roads show that the government has targeted to build 2,091 bridges in FY2019/20. However, construction of only 425 bridges has been completed so far.
Defective design has appeared as one of the major causes for the delay in construction of bridges. For example, the construction of a bridge over Kandra River along the Hulaki Rajmarga (postal highway) at Bhajani Municipality in Kailali started nine years ago. But the bridge is still incomplete. Lama Shalpa Sherpa JV Company had started construction of the bridge in FY2010/11, agreeing to complete it in two years with a budget of Rs 40 million. But the design of the bridge has been revised a number of times.
According to a report prepared by the ministry, a number of bridge projects are awaiting review of their designs. These include bridges over Bhalukune Khola, Bheri River and Karnali River in Surkhet, and Kaligandaki River in Palpa. Likewise, construction of bridges over Malariya Nala that links Purnagiri and Pipalchautara, and Pathariya Nala of Dodhara-Chandani of Kanchanpur district has also been affected citing the defect in designing.
Apart from the design, negligence of contractors, low quality construction work and delay in release of funds by the concerned government agencies are the underlying problems in infrastructure development.
In many other cases, contractors are blamed for deliberately slowing work pace, additional budget in the pretext of cost escalation on the backdrop of high inflation rate. For example, four bridges on the Mid-hill Highway are suffering from dilly-dallying by the contractors, according to the ministry. Now, the authority has started process to scrap the contract for bridges in Khorunga of Panchthar and Pankhu, Bahadure and Dante of Dhulikhel.
A total of bridges are under construction on the highway, while 37 others are in the tender process.
A reported entitled 'Study and Analysis of the Status of Contract Management in Projects' published by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) last year showed that 1,848 projects related to eight ministries with large development budgets had missed construction deadline in FY2017/18. Last April, the Department of Roads had said that it would initiate action against contractors who affect the project citing various causes. However, no such action has been taken so far.