Sunday, January 20, 2019

Government still claims Melamchhi water will come on time

The government is terminating the contract with the Italian contractor of Melamchhi Water Supply Project – Cooperativa Muratorie Cementisti (CMC) di Ravenna – claiming that the already delayed project will complete on time. As less than five per cent work remains to bring the Melamchi water to Kathmandu, it is still possible to meet the deadline, claimed the project official.
The project has vowed to complete the remaining work of the Melamchi – even by awarding a new contract through a fast-track process – on time. But the cabinet has to decide on awarding the new contract as a special arrangement allowed by the Public Procurement Act (PPA). If the cabinet decides to award the contract for the remaining work to a new contractor, MWSP officials say, they can bring water to Kathmandu by mid-April. However, the Prime Minister has left for Davos yesterday – to take part in rich-nations club – for a week.
There are only five things remain to be done – fitting ventilation shafts in the tunnel, fixing three gates in the tunnel, finishing work in around a 500-meter stretch of the tunnel, some tunnel maintenance work, and construction of temporary coffer dams to divert the water to the tunnel, according to the consultant for the melamchi – EPTISA Engineering Services – has already did an assessment of the project site, evaluated the amount of remaining work and calculated the estimated costs, according to the ministry.
But it will take some more time to complete permanent construction of the dam and also complete the second phase of water treatment plant at Sundarijal. But water can be brought to Kathmandu even without completing the permanent construction works, the ministry claimed.
Secretary of the Ministry of Water Supply Gajendra Thakur today claimed that the Ministry of Water Supply will table a proposal at the cabinet for the purpose immediately after the process to end the contract with CMC di Ravenna is formalised. The Public Procurement Act 2007 has a provision to allow fast-track procurement by the cabinet, but the decision has to be appropriately justified.
The project has today formally started the process to terminate the contract with the CMC di Ravenna, which left the project site over a month ago, after the government did not pay compensation it had asked. The project office has sent a ‘notice of termination’ to the contractor and the notice, according to the procurement law, allows the contractor to correct its course within the 14 days. 
The contract between the project and the contractor – signed in 2013 – for tunnel works and building a dam will be terminated after 14 days, if the contractor fails to turn up at the project site. The project board meeting last Tuesday had decided to wait until Friday for the Italian contractor to return to the project site, which was almost unlikely.
After the termination of the contract, the government will seize all the equipment and construction materials of the Italian firm from the project site. The government will also seize two separate bank guarantees of Rs 1.34 billion and Rs 1.21 billion from Standard Chartered Bank and Nepal Investment Bank. But the Italian contractor owes Rs 1.3 billion to the local sub-contractors and suppliers. The government is claiming that it can pay the local sub-contractors and suppliers from the bank guarantee.

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