CAAN resumes tender evaluation for Pokhara airport
KATHMANDU, June 30: The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has resumed the process of awarding tender for the construction of Regional International Airport in Pokhara after the Ministry of Finance (MoF) asked it to move ahead the bid evaluation process and select the contractor strictly complying with the existing laws.
CAAN had halted the evaluation process and knocked on the doors of MoF after the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu recommended the name of four bidders, asking it to select one.
The names recommended by the embassy were China CAMC Engineering, China International Water and Electric Corporation, Sinohydro Corporation, and China CWC. "And the embassy´s letter had grossly confused us. Except for China CWC, which was disqualified on the ground of not submitting all the required documents, other three firms were already in our list," said a source at CAAN.
Owing to the confusion, CAAN had approached MoF to clarify its position, mainly to learn if it had held further talks with the Chinese government on soft-loans it was providing for airport construction. "MoF a few days ago informed that CAAN is authorized to select the contractor and suggested us to move ahead the selection process as per the law," the source added.
Deputy Director General at CAAN, Suman Shrestha also confirmed that CAAN has resumed the tender evaluation process of the regional international airport in Pokhara following the green signal from MoF.
"We are hopeful of completing the evaluation within a week," said Shrestha, adding that CAAN would award the project to the lowest bidder qualifying on technical evaluations.
Once the contractor is selected, the officials are hopeful that implementation of much-talked Pokhara Regional International Airport project will gain full momentum.
The overall process of selecting the contractor had drawn controversy after CAAN published the tender notice with a short deadline of 45 days. The lawmakers in March had also raised questions over fairness of the bidding process after they found Finance Minister Barshaman Pun of signing an agreement with China CAMC Engineering, assuring it of providing the contract.
The controversy was later settled after Pun apologized for his mistake and dismissed his agreement with China CAMC Engineering, and CAAN on Public Accounts Committee´s instruction extended the bid submission deadline by another 45 days.
The government is eyeing soft loans of around $ 145 million from Exim Bank of China for the development of the regional international airport in Pokhara. The Chinese government has responded positively, and committed of signing the loan agreement once the contractor is selected for engineering, procurement and construction of the project.
According to CAAN, the project will be completed within three years from the date of commencement. The total cost of the project is estimated at around $ 166 million. The airport, once completed, will be able to handle single aisle jet aircraft. The government had acquired 3,106 ropanis of land at Chhinedanda in Pokhara for the construction of the airport in 1975.