PMO stalls Dharahara reconstruction plan

Jul 17, 2018-The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) put on hold the Rs 4 billion reconstruction plan of Dharahara Tower just prior to the opening of contractors’ bids, following a complaint of malpractice.

The PMO’s directive derails plans of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), the nodal body to carry out reconstruction work in Nepal.

The current impasse follows a complaint made at the PMO. A Joint Venture (JV) of Kalika Construction, Rasuwa Construction Company and CICO, China, filed a complaint with the PMO alleging Raman Construction and its Chinese JV partner GIETC, the other contractor in the race, had filed fake documents.

The complainants have appealed to the authority to investigate the matter.

NRA Joint Secretary Rajuman Manandhar said. “The PMO directive to stall the tender process and investigate the allegation came just hours before the opening of the sealed bids made by these companies.”

Five contractors are bidding to win the rebuilding rights of the historic tower built by Bhimsen Thapa in 1832. The earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015 damaged it extensively.

The documents submitted by Raman about its Chinese partner GIETC is fake, JV partners Kalika Construction, Rasuwa Construction Company and CICO allege.

The NRA insists it had informed all companies to present documents validated by a notary as well as told the applicants to take full ownership of documents they submit.

“With the sudden intervention of the, PMO we have no clue about the process from here on,” Manandhar said. However, he remains optimistic the issue would be resolved soon because Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has pledged to reconstruct Dharahara at several public events.

The NRA had planned to award contract and lay the foundation stone for the tower in the current fiscal year.

To this end, the NRA did technical evaluation of six Nepal-based companies that responded to its Expression of Interest (EoI) call.

“We picked five companies for the next round of the contract-awarding process,” Manandhar said.

The companies had proposed rebuilding the historic monument through a JV with a Chinese company.

The NRA had said it would execute reconstruction work based on the vision of PM Oli, laid out during his first tenure as PM in 2016.

The NRA seeks funds from the public to reconstruct the historic site. It has also urged the Nepal Telecom (NT) that had earlier pledged Rs1 billion to rebuild the structure, to transfer the funds soon.

The state-owned telecom had backtracked on the project citing disagreement with the NRA on some issues.

The NT had earlier proposed investing around Rs8 billion for the property it would manage for the next 30 years.

The NRA and the Department of Archaeology do not agree with NT’s plan to use the structure for commercial purposes.

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