Gautam Buddha airport cost estimate doubles to $ 77m
KATHMANDU, Jun 26: Upgrading Gautam Buddha Airport (GBA) at Lumbini, which the government plans to develop into a regional international airport, will cost more than double what the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had earlier assessed, according to the latest detailed study commissioned by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal(CAAN).
"The new assessment done by a Korea-based consulting firm shows that the cost of completion of the first phase upgradation alone will hover around US $ 77 million. This is higher than the earlier estimate by US $ 42 million," said a senior official at CAAN.
A previous study carried out by the ADB four years ago had put the total cost of first phase upgradation at around US $ 35 million.
Based on that assessment, the government had secured a soft loan of around US $ 38 million under the South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project of ADB. As per the agreement, the Nepal government has to bear 15 percent of the total cost.
The latest estimate has rattled the CAAN - the civil aviation regulator - and it has turned to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to arrange additional funds.
“We have sent a letter to MoF requesting it to arrange additional resources in the coming budget or initiate a dialogue with the ADB for raising the assistance amount,” Tri Ratna Manandhar, director general of CAAN, told Republica.
CAAN, which planned to complete the first phase upgradation by 2014, was looking to start the upgradation work by October, 2012.
“The increased estimated cost will not affect timely completion of the project as we have a sufficient budget to start implementation,” said Murari Bhandari, Project Director of GBA. However, the project will need additional money for completion.
Bhandari said the estimated project cost went up mainly because the fresh study covered all cost details, including costs of enhancing the airport facilities.
After first phase upgradation, the airport will have the capacity to handle 600,000 passengers annually along with Boeing 757s (category 4E level aircraft). The regional international airport will be spread over 13,000 square meters and include a new runway 300 meters in length and 60 meters wide.
According to Bhandari, GBA will have a new control tower, a customs and cargo building, a crash fire building and other facilities after its upgradation. The first phase upgradation also includes construction of an exit taxiway with flexible pavement, a new international aircraft parking apron with rigid pavement, construction of a periphery road, and rehabilitation of the existing runway for conversion into a parallel taxiway with flexible pavement.
Similarly, improvement of the water supply, sewerage and drainage, diversion of the Ghanghra River, and construction of the airport boundary and security chain link fencing are also part of the upgradation plan.
CAAN has targeted completion of the last phase upgradation of the airport by 2030. After that, the airport will be able to handle up to six million passengers annually.