Plans to lay Valley’s electricity infrastructure underground faces delay

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File Photos: THT

Kathmandu, October 28 Due to the bidders quoting more amount than estimated, the government has again opened a new tender for laying electricity infrastructure underground in the Capital, on October 26. The government is planning to lay all electricity infrastructure in the Valley underground including utility cables as such unplanned infrastructure have killed the beauty of the city.

“All competitor contractors were seeking more money whereas we had already separated a tentative budget for the project,” informed Manoj Silwal, director of Power Transmission and Distribution Efficiency Enhancement Project of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).

In June 2017, NEA had said it would place all the physical infrastructure of areas that fall under the Maharajgunj and Ratnapark distribution centres underground within two years as a pilot project. NEA had thus published a tender notice for the works on August 18, 2017, but the companies that submitted their bids had quoted figures beyond what NEA had estimated.

NEA plans to implement the project with funding through the Asian Development Bank’s soft loan assistance worth $150 million under the power extension and distribution capacity increment project. The tender was separated into two segments – Maharajgunj and Ratnapark.

“We published a new tender notice after consultation with ADB and published the new tender as per the bank’s procurement guidelines and we hope to finalise the bid this time,” Silwal added.

When the first tender was opened nine companies had submitted their bids for Maharajgunj segment and eight firms had submitted their bids for Ratnapark segment, as per Silwal. “When we opened the technical bid documents, three had been selected for the Maharajgunj segment and four for the Ratnapark section,” he informed.

“However, when we went through financial proposals we saw that the bids quoted were beyond our estimation, so we rejected all the bids.”

After the project is implemented it is expected to reduce the number of accidents that occur due to unplanned structures. The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation has stated that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has also committed to support the project with loan worth Rs 10 billion.

The government plans to launch the project as power leakage and risk of accidents have been rising due to lack of timely reform in power supply system the Capital for the past two decades.

Meanwhile, Nepal Telecommunications Authority – regulator of the telecom sector of the country – has also said it will manage overhead telecommunication cables. It has plans to coordinate with NEA to lay telecommunication cables underground. NTA had allocated Rs 20 billion for the purpose in the last fiscal year but was unable to do anything in this regard.

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