First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: Though there was an aim to start the operation of the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) from January this year, it has been delayed for six months as construction activities have still not been completed.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, around seven percent of finishing and connection works has been halted due to the need of foreign workers. Workers have to be brought from China and India to complete the work but they do not want to come to Nepal as the number of COVID-19 infections has been rising here.
As per Raj Kumar Chhetri, spokesperson for CAAN, workers from China were scared, adding that air travel to bring workers from India had not started. “Workers are reluctant to come to Nepal due to the increasing number of positive cases here. Otherwise, if the work is done, construction will be completed in three months and flights can be started in another three months,” Chhetri said.
So far, 93 percent physical progress of the project has been made. For ICB 01, 35 Chinese nationals will have to be brought. Although letters were sent to bring in the workers, they refused to come on their own.
“There are procedures like PCR test and they have to be put in quarantine. Processes are underway to bring them soon but they are not eager to come to Nepal because of the increase in coronavirus cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, some of the equipment is also stranded at Lhasa, China due to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the northern neighbor. Similarly, all the devices required for the ICB 02 have arrived. Manpower will have to be brought from Thailand, USA and Australia to connect the devices. According to CAAN, 30 people will have to be brought from Thailand in the first phase.
Construction of the project began in 2015. The project, which had a target to be completed by December 2018, had to face various problems.
There were expectations that the airport would be operational by 2019 despite various obstacles. The deadline was later extended to March, 2020.
Work at the airport has not been able to pick up speed since the lockdown was imposed. Even though it is said that the airport will be operational by January this year, the work in the final stage has not been completed due to lack of skilled manpower.
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