10 years on, project still incomplete

    269

    Jul 2, 2017-

    One of the Chinese contractors of the Kulekhani III Hydropower Project is most likely to miss the revised work completion deadline of July, preventing the country from tapping additional 14 megawatts of electricity.

    Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the owner of the 14MW hydropower project, has appointed Jheijian Jialin Company to complete hydro and electro mechanical works at the project site. The Chinese company was asked to complete its work by July after revising the deadline for several times in the past.

    “But lackadaisical attitude shown by the contractor is expected to delay the construction work,” Subash Kumar Mishra, chief of the Kulekhani III Hydropower Project, said. “So chances of the contractor meeting the July deadline are highly unlikely.”

    The Chinese contractor is delaying the work because it still has not imported 15 percent of the equipment required for the project from China. Also, none of the three towers required to evacuate power has been built. “Works related to installation of turbine and generator have just begun, while over 30 percent of electromechanical work is yet to be complete,” a technician associated with the project said on condition of anonymity.

    The Chinese contractor has outsourced works related to installation of equipment to a local company. “But the local company is working at an extremely slow pace,” the technician said. “This over dependence on local firm has delayed work.”

    On the other hand, Sino Hydro, the civil contractor for the project, has completed 98 percent of the works.

    As per the construction schedule, the civil contractor should have completed 99 percent of the work by now, but it has been taking time due to a payment dispute with NEA.

    The Chinese civil contractor has claimed a total of around Rs40 million as variation cost under different headings, but the NEA has delayed arbitration and payment.  The civil contractor, according to project officials, has warned not to complete the remaining work if the demanded payment is not released at the earliest. The construction of the project began in April 2008. It was originally scheduled to be completed by 2012. When the project missed the deadline, it was extended by 30 months. When that deadline too passed, the target was pushed back once again till the end of the last fiscal year.

    Works had started gathering pace after former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal directed project officials to expedite the construction in December. But the contractors could not give momentum to construction works that was taken to a higher gear.

    As deadlines are being missed, the cost of the project is also going up. Initially, the project was estimated to be built at a cost of Rs2.4 billion or Rs173.6 million per MW. Now, that cost has ballooned to Rs4.6 billion or Rs330.7 million per MW.

    Source: The Kathmadu Post