KATHMANDU: The government’s decision to shut down several crusher industries has brought the construction activities in various infrastructure projects to a grinding halt.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) abruptly ordered the crusher industries to shut their operation, without analyzing the impact.
The MoHA said the crusher industries operating without registering with the government have been ordered to close their activities.
After Rabi Lamichhane took office as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, the MoHA issued a notice on January 4 to close down the illegal crusher industries across the country. The MoHA has been publishing data of closed crusher industries in various districts on a daily basis.
Developer companies said the shortage of stone, pebbles, and sand was triggered by the halt in the operation of crusher industries and affected the construction of infrastructure projects including national pride projects.
The government’s already weak performance in capital expenditure is going to further worsen with the shortage of construction materials. The government has spent only about 13 percent of the capital expenditure budget over six months of the current fiscal year.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Narayan Kaji Shrestha also informed Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal about the closure of the crusher industries. However, the problem has not yet been unresolved.
According to sources, discussions are being held in the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT), which has given time to crushers to register with the government to pave the way for allowing them to resume operation.
The work on the Nagdhunga Tunnel, which was continued even during the COVID-19 time, has stopped now, and the construction company is preparing to claim compensation.
The construction of the Nagadhunga tunnel, which was continued by establishing an “Isolation Center,” during COVID-19, ceased to continue due to a lack of construction materials.
Arjun Jung Thapa, Director General of the Department of Roads (DoR), informed that although the construction of access roads and auxiliary infrastructure is going on continuously, the main tunnel construction has stopped due to a lack of stones, pebbles, and sand.
The Japanese construction company Hazama Ando was building 8 to 9-meter tunnels every day. They closed it due to a lack of construction materials. About 15 Japanese technicians and workers were assigned to the project for the construction of the tunnel.
Similarly, around 250 Nepali workers working on the project were left unemployed. However, the construction company is obliged to provide daily service facilities to the technicians and workers working on the project.
Thapa said that the construction company can claim damages from the management side if they have to provide service facilities to the workers even if there is no work. “As this matter is clear in the bilateral contract itself, in the event that the construction company asks for damages, the management side has no choice but to provide it,” he added.
The representative of the construction company has informed the DoR department about the matter of demanding damages.
There is also a shortage of stones on the Nagadhunga-Naubise-Muglin road section
Not only the Nagadhunga tunnel but also the Nagdhunga-Naubise-Muglin road section of the Prithwi Highway, which is a vital route for movement to and from the capital, is also affected.
“Due to the closure of crusher industries resulting in a shortage of stones, our work has stopped, said Kiran Karki, head of the project.
“Construction businessmen have kept the sand and pebbles required for the expansion of the project,” said Karki.
About 96.14 km of the long road from Nagadhunga to Muglin is being upgraded with simultaneous construction works on three road sections -12.62 km Nagadhunga -Naubise, 43.52 km Naubise -Malekhu, and 40 km Malekhu- Muglin.
Construction of bridges along the Narayangadh-Muglin road is also affected amid a shortage of river products being sourced from crusher industries.
Butwal-Narayangadh road expansion plan will be stopped after a week
Pradipraj Shakya, Head of Butwal Narayangadh Road Project, West Section, said the work of the project is going on in full swing and that in the last few days, there has been some disruption due to winter fog. “However, a possible shortage of construction materials is all set to disrupt the work,” said Shakya.
Balaju-Tinpille road among affected
The construction of the Balaju Tinpiple road leading to the Bancharedanda Landfill site built for the waste management of Kathmandu Valley has also stopped. DoR’s Director General Thapa said that the road work has stopped due to insufficient supplies of construction materials for the project.
70 percent of postal highways affected
There are about 200 ongoing contracts to construct the postal highways national pride. According to developers, an estimated 70 percent of contract work is going to be affected by the crunch of construction materials.
According to the DoR construction materials are getting scarce in Terai districts as well.
Rabi Singh, president of the Federation of Contractors’ Associations of Nepal (FCAN), the number of projects halting construction activities is increasing every passing day.
Minimal impact on mid-hill highway
“Due to the lack of construction materials, work has started to stop on the projects running in the Kathmandu Valley, Terai, and urban areas. However the mid-hill highway has not been significantly affected so far, said Thapa. Construction activities are smooth as required river products are available nearby river of the project sites and the local bodies are getting royalties. and it was easy.
Meanwhile, crusher entrepreneurs have demanded that the government treat crushers separately based on those who are registered and operating legally and those not.
80% of contracts in the country are stalled: FCAN
The FCAN has said that due to the closure of the crusher industries across the country, 80 percent of infrastructure project contracts have been stopped. Rabi Singh, president of the FCAN, said that if this process continues for a few more days, there will be a state of construction holiday with no development activities across the country.
“No businessman can work by buying sand, pebbles, and stones. Prices of these materials have skyrocketed,” he said, “It would push up the project cost significantly.”