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Tamakoshi transmission line project delayed due to change of contractor

   April 19, 2019        352        PRAHLAD RIJAL

The construction of a section of the 400 kV Tamakoshi-Kathmandu Transmission Line has been delayed by a year due to a change of contractor, project officials said.

The Nepal Electricity Authority had originally awarded the contract to build the 44-km stretch from New Khimti to Barhabise to a Chinese firm, but ended the agreement last December for slow progress. On Monday, the state-owned power utility gave the contract to install the overhead power line to an Indian company, KEC International. It has told KEC International to sign the contract and submit the performance guarantee within 28 days.

Highly placed sources at the Nepal Electricity Authority say that although the power line project has been delayed, the electricity produced by the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project, which is expected to commence generation in November, will not go to waste as it can still be evacuated to eastern and western Nepal through the existing 132 kV and 220 kV transmission lines.

According to project chief Navaraj Ojha, the project costs have increased slightly owing to the delay. “The contract winning company KEC has bid to carry out the construction work for around Rs710 million, slightly more than the Rs610 million quoted by the previous contractor,” Ojha said.

“Out of the six main towers, we have the designs ready for four; and the new contractor will be asked to design, supply, install and commission the remaining two towers in the Mude area. We plan to complete the entire procurement process and mobilise the new contractor by May 15,” Ojha said.

Six international firms–five Indian and one Chinese–had submitted technical proposals in March to execute the strategically important project designed to place high capacity overhead power lines to evacuate power generated by hydel plants on the Tamakoshi and Khimti rivers to the Kathmandu Valley where power demand is the highest.

The Nepal Electricity Authority approved the technical bids of the five Indian firms; and after studying their financial bids, it awarded the contract to the lowest bidder KEC. The transmission line project is funded by the government, Asian Development Bank and government of Norway under their Electricity Transmission Expansion and Supply Improvement Project.

As per the contract signed with the original contractor, a joint venture of Guangxi Transmission and Substation Construction Company and Shenzhen Clou Electronics, the project was expected to be up and running by May 2019.

The project office terminated the pact with the Chinese joint venture for working slow. Nepal Electricity Authority Managing Director Kulman Ghising had visited the project site on multiple occasions to direct the contractor to expedite work, but to no avail. The state-owned power utility then moved to end the contract with the joint venture, and seized its Rs123.2 million performance and bank guarantee.

The Kathmandu Post