Private firm to develop Kathmandu-Hetauda tunnel highway under BOOT
KATHMANDU, May 14: It has finally become clear that much-talked about, but not so prioritized Kathmandu-Kulekhani-Hetauda tunnel road project would now be developed under public-private joint investment model.
The clarity emerged after the government on Monday signed a preliminary agreement with Nepal Purwadhar Bikas Company (NPBC), allowing it to construct and operate the tunnel road in public-private partnership as per the build-own-operate-and transfer (BOOT) Act.
NPBCL, which is assigned to carry out a complete feasibility study and construction, has assured that it would finish the construction in 4 years. If it manages to translate its plan into reality, it would reduce the travel distance between Kathmandu and Hetauda to just 50 km.
The government had decided to handover the project to the NPBC through a cabinet decision in April.
Kush Kumar Joshi, president of the NPBCL and Ramesh Raj Bishta, joint secretary of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW) signed the project execution agreement in the presence of Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai at the National Planning Commission (NPC).
“We will complete feasibility study within six months and complete construction in three-and-a-half years. That means the whole project will be completed within 4 years,” Joshi said.
The company has estimated its total cost at around Rs 20 billion, and has planned to raise the fund also by issuing bond to the people.
"We will need to deploy international technology for construction, but in terms of finances it will be a project that will typically have Nepali investment alone," Joshi said, requesting all Nepalis to invest in the project that will yield a long term returns.
The complete picture of financing needs and ways to realize them will be designed once feasibility study is completed, he stated.
PM Bhattarai termed the project as a stepping stone of the new Nepal in a real sense. "This will be a landmark project in the history of Nepal," he said." It´s not just a construction of road but also a construction of New Nepal." He assured the government will provide all support to the project to ensure its smooth implementation and said the government will not tolerate unnecassary disturbance in any development works.
The company has already formed various committees at the local levels to ensure their participation in the project.
Monday´s agreement made clear the government will handover the track of the tunnel road to the NPBCL for its development, but it is still not clear whether the government will provide any financing support in the project.
"Today´s agreement highlights government´s faith in the private investors," said Tulsi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the ministry. "We are hopeful they will meet the expectations."