KATHMANDU, May 16: Nepal Army (NA) has contracted two Chinese companies to construct the Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track despite the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC)’s direction to stop the process on suspicion of irregularities, mainly in the second phase construction.

The parliamentary committee two weeks ago asked the NA to immediately stop the process it had initiated to award the contract for the construction of bridges and tunnels in the second package of the Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track. Defying the direction of the PAC, the NA however awarded the contract to the Chinese Contractor Poly Chhangda Engineering Company Limited and China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited last Friday.

According to the NA, China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited has been given the contract of package-I construction while Poly Chhangda Engineering Company Limited has been assigned with the package-II construction work. The estimated cost of package-I is Rs 21.61 billion and that of the package-II is Rs 28.53 billion.  

Last December, the NA had picked these Chinese contractors to carry out the work of the second phase construction of the expressway. But the PAC had written to the Ministry of Defence three times, urging it to stop the process citing flaws in the process of awarding the construction work, but to no avail. Following the apathy of the NA, the parliamentary committee had even written to the NA directly to halt the process.

The government on May 4, 2017 decided to give the responsibility of construction management to the NA. The NA had selected a total of 43 companies — 21 for the first phase and 22 for the second phase of the project. On December 25, last year, the NA through a public notice announced the selection of only two companies – both Chinese — for the contract.

The NA has been accused of making its own procedures to award the contract. The Chinese companies are said to have been selected under the influence of Rajan Rayamajhi, a near and dear one of a high-ranking NA official. 

According to the NA, the construction of bridges and tunnels will be carried out in the engineering procurement construction (EPC) model, under which the projection design, construction and operation are handled by the contractor company. While the contractors have been given a time frame of six months to design the infrastructures, the construction work will be completed in the next three years.

In regard to the construction of 6.5 km long tunnel ways, a 3.5 km tunnel in Mahadev Dada will be constructed by China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited. Similarly, the contract for the construction of a 1.6 km long tunnel way in Dhedre and a 1.4 km long tunnel in Lendada have been awarded to Poly Chhangda Engineering Company Limited.