The Roads Department is preparing to invite a global tender to select a contractor to build a tunnel linking Nagdhunga and Naubise which lie on a major highway linking Kathmandu with the southern plains.
The Rs20-billion tunnel will pass under the western rim of the Kathmandu Valley and emerge in adjoining Dhading district. The department has approved the bidding documents and detailed project report (DPR) prepared by the consultant and forwarded it to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) for its go-ahead.
The department expects to get Jica’s no objection letter in a couple of weeks, allowing it to go ahead with the public procurement process to appoint a contractor. The tunnel is being built financial assistance from the Japanese government.
“We will publish the tender notice as soon as we get the green signal from Jica,” said Sanjay Kumar Shrestha, chief of the foreign cooperation branch at the Roads Department.
The department said it would complete the public procurement process and mobilize the contractor at the project site at the beginning of the next fiscal year. Although it had planned to start construction by the end of the current fiscal year, delays in reviewing the DPR and bidding documents prepared by the consultant Nippon Koei pushed back the launch date.
The tunnel, which will be bored through the hills in the western part of the Valley, lies on the key highway linking Kathmandu with the national highway network and the Indian border in the south. The Nagdhunga tunnel will eliminate the circuitous route over the Valley’s rim and cut travel time.
In December 2016, the Japanese government signed an official development assistance loan agreement with the Nepal government worth Rs15.2 billion for the construction of the tunnel. The loan repayment period has been fixed at 40 years and the grace period at 10 years. The loan carries an interest rate of 0.01 percent per year.
The Nagdhunga Tunnel Project has two components: Construction of a 2.45-km tunnel from Basnetchhap to Sisne Khola and a 2.6-km approach road from Basnetchhap to Thankot. The tunnel and approach road are expected to cut travel time over the mountainous route from Nagdhunga to Naubise, the main gateway to Kathmandu. Also, traffic flow is expected to become smoother on the stretch after the tunnel is built.
The Nagdhunga-Naubise section is prone to gridlock due to the presence of many hairpin bends and its vulnerability to landslides. The proposed tunnel will have two 3.5-metre lanes and a 2.5-metre shoulder. It will also have LED lighting facility, mechanical ventilation, evacuation tunnel door and emergency telephone service.
Likewise, the approach road will have two bridges, toll booths and a roadside rest area for travellers. The rest area, spread over 4,650 square metres, will have parking space for nine heavy vehicles and 23 light vehicles, fast food restaurants, shops and toilets. The tunnel is expected to cost around Rs20.2 billion.
The Kathmandu Post