Kulekhani-3 languishing due to tardy contractor


    Jun 16, 2018-The construction of the much-delayed Kulekhani-3 Hydropower Project has slowed to a crawl due to the poor performance of the contractor hired to implement the electromechanical works.

    The performance of Jheijian Jialin, a Chinese company hired by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to execute the electromechanical works, has been very disappointing, project officials said. However, Sino Hydro, another Chinese company appointed to implement the civil works, has completed its task.

    A few days ago, three Chinese and 20 Nepali workers were mobilised at the project site to carry out the electromechanical works. However, the Chinese workers abandoned work and flew to their country for a 15-day vacation. “Considering the pace at which the project is being carried out, we are not sure if it will be completed by 2018,” said a project official. The project was slated to be completed seven years ago, but 20 percent of the electromechanical works still remain to be finished. The electromechanical contractor needs to erect three towers to evacuate the electricity from the power house to the substation. So far, it has erected only one tower. “If the work is carried out on a war footing, it will take around six months to complete the project and start generating electricity,” said the official.

    The NEA has tried every means possible to make the contractor increase the pace of work, including imposing a fine of Rs80 million for delaying construction. The company’s performance didn’t improve, leaving the NEA in a difficult position.  The power utility can’t even fire the contractor as it will be difficult to find another electromechanical contractor when construction is in the final stages of completion. The project’s completion deadline has been extended four times since it launched in April 2008. It was originally scheduled to be finished by 2012. When the project missed the deadline, it was extended by 30 months. When that deadline too passed without the project nowhere near completion, the target was pushed back once again till the end of the fiscal year 2015-16.

    The then prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had also directed project officials to expedite the construction and complete it on time during his visit to the project site last December. When NEA officials complained about the Chinese contractor’s apathy, he had said that the government would take up the matter with the Chinese government.

    But there was no change. The project has encountered cost overruns due to delays, and the developer has spent double the amount of money originally estimated. The initial estimated cost of the project was Rs2.43 billion, but its cost has ballooned to Rs4.22 billion.

    In May 2014, the National Planning Commission declared Kulekhani 3 a troubled project.

    Source : The Kathmandu post