Nagdhunga tunnel project: Japan’s Nippon Koei awarded contract to prepare DPR

kathmandu: The Department of Roads (DoR) has appointed Japanese company Nippon Koei to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) and provide construction supervision for the Nagdhunga Tunnel Construction Project.

The tunnel, which will be bored through the hills in the western part of the Kathmandu Valley, is being developed under an official development assistance loan from the Japanese government.

It is being built 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 rim and cut travel time.

The DoE on Friday selected the Japanese consulting firm from among the companies that had submitted expressions of interest. The company will be paid Rs990 million to prepare the DPR and supervise the construction of the tunnel.

The Japanese firm will work with ITECO Nepal, a Nepali consulting company and its venture partner, to complete the DPR of the tunnel project within a year. The DoR has made it mandatory for the international firm to partner with a Nepali firm to execute the job.

“We created the provision to facilitate technology transfer and help domestic firms gain competency to implement such projects,” said Sanjay Kumar Shrestha, chief of the Foreign Cooperation Branch at the DoR.

According to Shrestha, the contract signed with the Japanese firm states that it has to hand over the report by March 2018.

“We will publish a tender to select a contractor for the construction of the project by that date,” said Shrestha. “The selected contractor will begin construction in 2018.” The project is expected to be completed by August 2022.

The Japanese government signed an official development assistance loan agreement with the Nepal government worth Rs15.2 billion for the construction of the tunnel in December 2017. The 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 basically 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 its many hairpin bends and vulnerability to landslides. The proposed tunnel will have two 3.5-metre-wide lanes and a 2.5-metre-wide 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 cost of the project is expected to around Rs20.2 billion, 75 percent of which will be covered by the soft loan being extended by the Japanese government.