KATHMANDU: The problem regarding infrastructure projects not being completed on time is always a hot topic that has been debated for a long time, from small meetings to large conferences. This is also the issue that creates a heap of criticism against the government and developers. Such low-performing projects become major news priorities for the media also that also fuel public anger. A general narrative has been established in society that projects are never completed on time and within the estimated cost.
Are the projects not completed on time in Nepal? There are but in limited numbers. In Nepal, ‘lucky’ projects that are completed on time are rare. The success stories of such projects are often overshadowed. Not only are the number of such infrastructure projects limited, but also are less talked about. Despite the budget allocation, 90 percent of the projects are said to have not been completed within the stipulated time.
“When problems are solved on time and availability of construction materials is ensured, there is a high chance of project completing on time,”
The role of the bureaucracy is also important in order to complete infrastructure projects quickly. If the capacity and efficiency of the construction professionals are enhanced and monitoring the construction projects and solving the disputes are ensured project works will go smoothly. Infrastructure policy expert and ex-secretary Suman Sharma says that projects that have resolved these issues on time and have easy availability of construction materials have been completed quickly.
“When problems are solved on time and availability of construction materials is ensured, there is a high chance of project completing on time,” Sharma says.
There is not a single example of the completion of projects of national pride, which are put on the highest priority by the government. However, this does not mean that not a single project has been completed on time. There are very few such projects with a few representative exceptions that were completed ahead of schedule. Other projects can learn from the experience of some of those exceptional projects.
Karnali River Bridge connecting Banke and Bardia
The 1,15-metre bridge built on the Geruwa river at the tributary of the Karnali river at Kothiaghat in Bardia is part of the project that was completed ahead of time. This bridge, which is important for those traveling from Banke to Bardia, was completed six months ahead of schedule. This double-lane bridge constructed by Anak, Lumbini, and Tundi Construction JV has a width of 9 meters 20 cm. A footpath has also been arranged on the bridge. After the construction of this bridge, more than 150,000 locals have benefited. Rishi Prasad Subedi, Chairman of Tundi Construction, involved in the construction of the bridge, says, “The cooperation of the project manager and the easy availability of construction materials were the main reasons for the quick completion of this bridge.” The then Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister Bimalendra Nidhi inaugurated this bridge. This bridge, which is important for those living around Rajapur municipality, has been constructed using pre-straight technology.
“The cooperation of the project manager and the easy availability of construction materials were the main reasons for the quick completion of this bridge,”
Bheri-Babai Diversion Project
This project to mix flow from Bheri to Babai through a 12 km long tunnel has also been completed well ahead of schedule. The tunnel to be constructed to divert the water of the national pride Bheri-Babai diversion multi-purpose project has been completed faster than expected. The task was completed on 16 April 2018, which was supposed to be completed on 28 March 2020.
Dang’s Rapti Bridge and Gwarakhola Bridge
The bridge built on the Rapti river at Deukhuri in the Dang district is also included in the list of projects that were completed on time. The contract for this bridge was taken by ANK Lumbini YP JV. The length of the bridge is 860 meters and the width is 10 and a half meters.
The Gwarakhola bridge under the Ghorahi-Tulsipur road section of the Dang district is also a project to be completed before the contract date. Although the project started late, it was completed 6 months ahead of schedule. Rs 470 million were allocated for the construction of the bridge connecting Kapdevi-Jahda village in Gwarakhola and the bridge on the Ghorahi-Tulsipur road, which Kalika Rasuwa JV was entrusted with the construction.
Orahi river bridge
The bridge over the Orahi River, which flows through Thakur, where the Bardia National Park office is located, is also part of the project that was completed ahead of schedule. This bridge was completed 9 months ahead of schedule.
Kamala River Bridge and Marin River Bridge
In Sindhuli district, two bridges were completed ahead of schedule in August 2020. They were constructed under the Bridge Project, Madhyakshetra Sector No. 2. Dudhauli Municipality-6 Harshahi-Jagadi and Ward No. 5 Sirtauli-Khania in the Kamala River connecting Dudhauli Municipality-6 of the district was completed one year in advance. The 500-meter-long bridge built on the Kamala river was started on 13 July 2016 following the agreement with the construction company Kalika-Tundi-Rasuwa JV. The bridge construction company was built with a total investment of Rs 612.2 million and completed the construction one year before the contracted date. This bridge was inaugurated on 6 Feb 2019 by the then Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister Raghuivar Mahaseth. After the construction of the bridge, the locals have become comfortable.
An agreement was signed on 13 July 2016 for the 400-meter-long bridge built by the Kalika-Tundi-Rasuwa JV in Sindhuli on the Marin River. The bridge, inaugurated on 5 Sep 2018, was supposed to be completed by 12 Jan 2017. This bridge with a total cost of Rs 588.6 million has two lanes and 10 spans. This bridge’s foundation stone was laid by the then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on 27 Nov 2016. Dahal also inaugurated the bridge.
Sisnekhola Bridge in Okhaldhunga
Sisne Khola Bridge in Okhaldhunga was also completed a year ahead of schedule. The bridge, which was contracted to be built in two years on the Sisne River under the Milanchok-Sapanavati-Rumzatar road section, was completed within a year. K.M. Engineers Builders Kathmandu signed a contract with the Government of Nepal on 9 July 2020 to complete the construction on 8 July 2022. This bridge with a total length of 35 meters and width of 8.4 meters has been constructed using Prestige RCS technology.
How are infrastructure projects completed ahead well before the schedule?
The issue of infrastructure projects being completed quickly or ahead of schedule basically depends on the efforts and performance of the builders.
“It was found that some of the project chiefs make proper arrangement of construction materials to make the projects easier and sincerely to speed up the work. Such efforts definitely helped to move the projects forward,”-Arjun Jang Thapa, Director of General, Department of Roads
Along with this Thapa, has the experience of completing the construction on time when the environment around the project construction site is favorable. For example, if the project gets support from local people, if there is support from the project office and there is enthusiasm to work, then the work will be completed quickly. Moreover, if any problem arises, it will be solved quickly, and the implementation will be facilitated.
“It was found that some of the project chiefs make proper arrangement of construction materials to make the projects easier and sincerely to speed up the work. Such efforts definitely helped to move the projects forward,” says Thapa.
“It is seen from the experience of those projects that if the spirits of the contract are followed from the day of the contract, it can become a project in time,”
Former Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Rajendraraj Sharma, shares his experience that when work is done according to the contract agreement, the projects are completed on time.“It is seen from the experience of those projects that if the spirits of the contract are followed from the day of the contract, it can become a project in time”-says Sharma.
He believes that if the technical problems are solved in time, social, economic, and local supply of construction materials are coordinated, the project will progress smoothly. “However, due to the tendency of not taking responsibility and working seriously, the ‘disease’ of not being completed on time is still present in many projects,” he adds.
Subedi, Chairman of Tundi Construction, which completed projects such as Karnali Bridge and Irrigation Department Building before the scheduled time, says that the location of the project, the availability of construction materials, and the behavior of the officials of the public body entrusted with the construction of the project, also influence the project performances.
“Project will not only become easier but also faster if bills are paid on time,”
He says that if the supervisor who inspects the project site is positive and plays the role of not stopping the work, project activities move seamlessly.
Sudarshan Devkota, a senior engineer of Rasuwa Construction, who has completed work ahead of time in different parts of the country, shares his experience that work can be done faster if the manpower and construction materials are easily available. So far, Rasuwa Construction has completed projects such as Mahendranagar (Aurahi) Bridge in Dhanusha District, Gowar Khola Bridge in Banke, and the Kamala River Bridge in Sindhuli ahead of schedule.
” Projects will not only become easier but also faster if bills are paid on time,”- says Devekota.
Ex-Secretary Suman Sharma says that prior preparation, a clear purchase document will play an important role in the timely completion of the project. “Many contracts in the past have been in trouble due to this ambiguity,” recalls Sharma.