Pokhara International Airport soon to be reality - Nepal

Pokhara International Airport soon to be reality

Purposed Pokhara International airport construction site.
Purposed Pokhara International airport construction site.

23 MAY 2014,  KATHMANDU – Its a life time of waiting, thousands of people been relocated for the cause of public development and still it was a mystery, now finally government of Nepal has taken further steps to build the second International airport in the country and that will be the place where thousands of tourist are pouring in every year.

Pokhara literally named after the Nepali word “Pokhari” which meaning is the city of lakes. It is situated just below the Annapurna mountain range in the western Nepal, a living paradise, some even call it a heaven on earth as well.

According to the News, The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) on Thursday awarded the contract to build a regional international airport in Pokhara to the lowest bidder China CAMC Engineering Co. The new airport, which has been in the works for 39 years, is proposed to be built at Chinnedanda, 3 km to the east of the existing domestic airport.

CAAN’s Director General Ratish Chandra Lal Suman and China CAMC Engineering’s Chairman and President Lou Yan signed the $ 215.96 million deal on behalf of their respective governments.

Recurring controversies regarding the price tag have bogged down the project. Suman had said that he was not comfortable signing the agreement under the current circumstances. However, the deal went down after a minister-level decision on Thursday authorized CAAN’s director general to change the tender documents prepared under the Bill of Quantity (BOQ) to the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) model, said Birendra Kumar Shrestha, spokesperson of CAAN.

Under the EPC model, the contractor becomes liable for completing the project according to the tender conditions or it ensures the certainty of cost. “The EPC contract binds the contractor to deliver the project at a stipulated time with predetermined price regardless of any increase in costs that the contractor may incur after the contract is signed,” said Suman.

Following Thursday’s development, CAAN is preparing to send a loan request letter to China EXIM Bank through the Finance Ministry. The government plans to borrow $ 145 million or more in soft loans from the bank to build the airport.

Pokhara Airport construction agreement signed up.
Pokhara Airport construction agreement signed up.

Shrestha said that after EXIM Bank sanctioned the loan, the contractor would conduct a detailed drawing and design of the project. “It will take at least one year to complete the design and drawing survey of the project.”

After the completion of the survey, the contractor will submit the survey details to CAAN for its approval. “The project is expected to be completed in three years after the survey work,” Shrestha said.

On April 7, a Caan board meeting chaired by Tourism Minister Bhim Acharya approved the project under the revised cost of $ 215.96 million. The price tag had been recommended by a three-member independent panel formed by the government.

CAAN had invited bids for the project on Feb 9, 2012. The airport project has been on hold since July 2012 after the lowest bidder China CAMC quoted a price of $ 305 million, which is 85 percent higher than the government’s estimate. The government had expected the project to cost around $ 166 million.

Subsequently, in January 2013, China CAMC wrote to the Tourism Ministry expressing its willingness to build the project at the government-estimated cost.

Things became more complicated after China Airport Construction Company, a consultant appointed by China CAMC, submitted another study report to Caan quoting a price of $ 264 million. Adding 16 percent price escalation and 13 percent VAT, the estimated outlay would come to around $ 300 million, nearly equal to the original cost quoted by China CAMC.

Another three-member independent cost evaluation panel recommended a price of $ 215.96 million. The ministry then tabled the proposal with the latest estimated cost at the Cabinet, but the Khil Raj Regmi-led government put the project on the back-burner. The project was revived by Tourism Minister Acharya under the Sushil Koirala-led government. Caan had even forwarded a separate proposal to the Tourism Ministry asking it to request the Chinese government to convert the loan pledged by the Chinese government into a grant.

Long vacated land of Proposed  Pokhara International Airport.
Long vacated land of Proposed Pokhara International Airport.

The government had acquired more than 3,106 ropanis of land in 1975 to build the airport. It has earmarked Rs 1 billion this fiscal for additional land acquisition after a fresh study said that another 500 ropanis would be required for the project. As per the feasibility report, the airport will accommodate medium category jets like the Boeing 757 and Airbus 320.

Now, Lets hope that one day soon we will be flying home with new Airlines and in the brand new airport in Nepal.

Source: KOL