Thursday, December 22, 2016

Nepal, Japan sign Nagdhunga tunnel deal

The Nepal and Japan today signed an agreement for a loan for the Nagdhunga Tunnel Construction Project that is going to be the first tunnel road in Nepal.
The agreement that will pave the way to start construction of the 2.45-km tunnel road under the Nagdhunga pass has set August 2022 as the target to bring the tunnel into operation.
Finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi and Japan’s ambassador to Nepal Masashi Ogawa signed the exchange of notes for the project today at the Finance Ministry.
Likewise, a Loan Agreement for the project was also signed by joint secretary and chief of International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division at Finance Ministry Baikuntha Aryal and chief representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Nepal Jun Sakuma, on the sidelines, in the presence of deputy prime minister and finance minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara and physical infrastructure and transport minister Ramesh Lekhak.
Speaking during loan agreement signing ceremony, ambassador Ogawa said that the project is regarded as the 60th anniversary commemoration project and the Japan government considers this project to be a symbolic landmark for the socio-economic development of Nepal and for the deepening relationships between our two countries. He remarked that Japan has many years of experience in developing such tunnel road projects and highly developed tunnel construction technology of Japan will be used in Nagdhunga-Naubise tunnel road project.
Referring to the present condition of this road link, he said that the road conditions of Naubise–Thankot section of the Tribhuvan Highway are very poor and the vehicular movement is slow due to the many sharp curves and steep gradient. Considering the complex geological condition of this stretch, the need for its upgradation or realignment with a better alternative had been felt for long.
According to the agreement, the Japan will provide a loan of 16.636 billion yen – around Rs 15.29 billion – for the construction of the tunnel under the Nagdhunga pass to ease traffic congestion along the Nagdhunga-Naubise section of the Prithvi Highway, the key gateway of the Kathmandu Valley.
According to a statement issued by JICA, the loan amount – under its official development assistance (ODA) – will cover public work on the tunnel, access roads, bridges and other constructions – including improvements, plus consultation services – and also including detailed design-work, bidding assistance, construction supervision, and the strengthening of operations and management capacity.
"The loan agreement is signed with the condition of 40 years repayment and a 10-year grace period with 0.01 per cent annual interest,” according to a press release issued by JICA.
Under the loan agreement, the project will purchase the products and services necessary to construct 5.05-km of tunnel-road that stretches from Baad Bhanjyang, Kathmandu to Sisnekhola, Dhading districts. The 2.45-km of the stretch will be a two-lane tunnel and 2.20-km (Kathmandu side) and 0.40-km (Dhading side) will be approach roads. There will be 2 bridges along the approach roads, according to the agreement.
The tunnel will also have fire detection units, CCTV cameras, evacuation tunnel-doors, emergency parking bays, lighting, loud speaker equipment and visibility-index meters, among other infrastructures for safer operations.
Likewise, the construction of toll facility, control office and distribution line of 4.1 kilometers are the other components of the project. Plaza area, rest room, restaurant, shops, parking space will also be developed, utilizing a flat land made by disposal of tunnel excavation materials.
The project aims at reducing the time it takes vehicles to clear the Nagdhunga Pass to one-third of the current time making the transport of people and goods more efficient, and to contribute to local socioeconomic development. It is also anticipated that this project will significantly improve vehicular movement and, accordingly, travel time and transport expenses for fuel and spare parts will also decrease significantly.
It is said that it will take one-and-a-half years to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) of the project and another three-and-a-half years for the construction. The contractor for the project will be selected under the international competitive bidding. The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport is the executing agency of the project, which is expected to be completed by August 2022.
The assistance programme was announced during the visit of Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi to Nepal – at the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between Japan and Nepal – this September.
“This project will be instrumental to further strengthening economic activities," Japanese Embassy in Kathmandu said in a statement. "The infrastructure being constructed will be yet another cornerstone in enhancing the friendly relation between the people of the two countries."

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