July 2: In a window of just three days, the government has call two tenders worth Rs 25 Billion for the construction of tank bed of 106 km Kakadvitta-Inaruwa section of the Mechi-Mahakali Electric Railway. The Department of Railways under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport call the tender twice on Sunday and Wednesday asking Nepali construction companies to participate in the bidding process.
The Department of Railway has received a total budget of Rs 8.66 billion for the coming FY 2077/78. However, the tender for the construction of railway which is three times more than the budget, has also raised concerns.
Even though the foreign construction companies are allowed to propose for infrastructure projects of more than Rs 1 billion, they cannot apply tender this time. Likewise, few big Nepali construction companies can participate in the tender in small packages above Rs 10 million.
Director General of the department Balaram Mishra said that a total of 56 packages have been prepared and then called for tender. According to him, the 50 km section in Jhapa district has been divided into 34 packages. Similarly, the tender has been called to contract 56 km of Morang-Sunsari section in 30 packages.
He said that this tender is available for Nepali company only so that Nepali construction businessmen can use that money for professional development as Nepal itself will invest in this railway. The department has called for tender after the approval of Ministry of Finance and National Planning Commission. Multi-year contracts are processed only after the approval of these two bodies. He further said that there would not be shortage in budget for the construction as the tender is a multi-year contract and was called after the approval of these two bodies.
Although the decision of the department to allow Nepali construction companies only to apply for tender is positive, the construction businessmen have responded that due to some specifications seen in the tender, only limited businessmen can participate.
Former Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Tulsi Prasad Sitaula remarked that even the budget of 3-4 years cannot support the tender. This shows the tradition of not being able to work on time but only adding up the contracts has been repeated.
“It is a wrong practice to pile up contracts instead of completing the projects that have been contracted,” Sitaula said, “As the budget for the construction of railway is low, the bodies that approves the tender by ensuring the budget is also guilty.”
“It is unnecessary for the government to call for tender of such large amount at a time when it has been difficult to pay the employees,” he further said adding, “There is an unreasonable condition while issuing the tender which is likely to reduce competition.”