April 8: Indecisiveness over the construction model of Siddhababa tunnel has delayed the construction of the most-awaited project along the Butwal- Palpa road section of Siddhartha Highway.
The Department of Roads has already finalized Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) model and sent the proposal to Public Procurement Monitoring Office (PPMO). But the PPMO has neither approved the proposal nor has its standard document been endorsed by the cabinet, resulting in the inordinate delay.
The Ministry of Finance had managed the source of funding for the construction of the tunnel. The Ministry of Finance had given the permission to the department to initiate the procurement process for the tunnel construction within a budget limit of Rs 10.15 billion on November 18, 2019. But the concerned authorities are yet to take a decision on which model to apply for the construction of the tunnel even one and a half years after the decision.
Shiva Prasad Nepal, spokesperson of DoR, said that the department had sent the proposal to PPMO to construct the tunnel in an EPC model after securing the source of funding.
Under the EPC model, the contractor company makes the design on its own but the approval needs to be taken from the department, while the cost of repair and maintenance of the project needs to be borne by the company itself for five years.
“Our country lacks the skilled manpower to design transport tunnel, so EPC model has been chosen to provide training to our human resources in spite of its higher costs,” said Nepal.
The department has already prepared the required document for EPC. However, the PPMO has not approved the document stating it would prepare its own standard bidding document.
The PPMO argues that its document will be applicable for all projects across the country but the document prepared by the DoR for Siddababa tunnel will be applicable for only one particular project.
The PPMO has already submitted the document to the cabinet for approval. Due to the delay in approval, the contract management process has also been delayed.
“Since PPMO has said it will prepare the model itself, we are waiting for it,” said Nepal.
Meanwhile, a set of norms for constructing tunnel has already been prepared. It will address issues like cost of tunnel, what materials to use, manpower mobilization rather than the contract management. There should be a standard document to invite the contract and terms required for it, Nepal said.
The Public Procurement Act has made provision for various kinds of contracts. Based on this provision, PPMO is preparing standard document on model like EPC. In this model, the responsibility of design rests entirely with the construction company.
Under design and build model, which has already been implemented in the country, both the construction company and the department are responsible for the design and maintenance.