By Our Correspondent, Bhairahawa, July 6: The deadline of the under construction Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) project has been extended up to the end of December 2020 citing the effect of COVID-19 pandemic in its construction.
Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has extended the term of construction for the fourth time as the pandemic affected the supply of equipment from China. Earlier, the authority had extended the term for the third time up to the end of March 2020.
The GBIA project, which had faced the shortage of construction materials during the initial days of lockdown enforced from March 24, has now been affected by the delay in bringing equipment and technicians from outside.
Director General of CAAN Rajan Pokharel, however, said that the project would complete within the currently extended time. He said that the term of the contractor had been extended by nine months due to the difficult situation created by COVID-19 pandemic.
According to CAAN, it will take additional three months for pre-operational preparation if the construction gets completed in December.
Pokharel said that the commercial operation of the GBIA would begin within next nine months if further problems did not arise.
According to the project, it had made additional three per cent physical progress in construction during the time of lockdown. The physical progress of the project has now reached 92 per cent. The GBIA is prepared to be the first national pride project to be completed.
Project Management has informed that work on fitting runway lights had reached the final stage while installation of air conditioners and other equipment in the terminal building was in progress. During lockdown, it had distributed Rs. 50 million as compensation for land to build the project.
Currently, 275 workers, including 29 Chinese, have been involved in construction of the project.
Though the construction works of the project had been halted in initial days of lockdown, its work then resumed two and half months ago as per the decision of the government to continue construction work of national pride projects.
The construction company, Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group, had got responsibility to construct the airport on December 31, 2014 at the cost of Rs. 6.23 billion. The project is financed by the loan assistance of Asian Development Bank.