What actually is fast track?
Fast track is an expressway being constructed in Nepal to join Kathmandu and Nijgadh (Terai). As the name suggest, it will be only 76 km far that includes 1.37 Km of tunnel way through hills and 10 Km via bridges. This route will be much helpful in aspect of time consumption.
According to the Physical Infrastructure and Transportation Ministry of Nepal, the fast track will be considered as ‘A’ level highway that hasn’t been constructed even in India yet. The highest level of highway that India has constructed so far is ‘B’ joining Delhi and Agra. So, basically the highway will be of very high standard with no traffic jam even for a minute as guaranteed.
The project; Fast Track
The fast track project falls under PPP model, which means Public-Private Partnership. According to this model, the public sector will be represented by government handing the contract. And the private sector will be represented by any organization or contractor. The private org.will build the project, own it, operate it and then transfer it to the government. This concept is well known as BOOT (Build, Own, Operate and Transfer).
Here, the private company itself will manage all the expenses and later the government will provide the money on the basis of the type and number of vehicles running via the fast-track. According to the agreement, Nepal government will have to pay on daily basis even if no vehicle runs which was the main drawback of this model.
Who will build it?
Going through the Internet rumors, I found that there has been discussions being held among the concerned authorities in Nepal government about ‘who will be handling the project? Nepali or Foreign contractors or government itself?’
As per the previous agreement, an Indian private company IL & FS was given the contract. IL & FS was appointed as a project management company who will again hire a suitable contractor to build the fast-track. This was the actual implementation of PPP model. The reason behind Nepal government not taking the managerial position itself is that they didn’t want to play risk over the demanding price by the contractors.
Now, lately the decision has been turned around and Nepal government itself is being ready to build the project. They are supposed to provide management responsibility to the Road Department (Sadak Bibhag) and hire a foreign contractor to build.
As the fast-track expressway will be of ‘A’ level with tunnels and bridges, it needs high technology and well skilled/experienced manpower, which Nepal may lack in some extent. Also managing such a project maybe quite hard for Nepal government as we’ve seen how our government handles the developmental projects. Moreover, the political instability in Nepal has always been an intruding factor behind anything. It would be an embarrassment to start the task, find arduous enough and then ask for help. Rather find a better contractor and handover the project. Why playing blind risk over a huge project that may not happen again over decades? Ok! Nepali engineers also need some opportunity to learn and flourish their skills in big projects.
Well, for that they can also be involved in the project; can work with the co-ordination of foreign engineers so that they can get enough chance to learn more.
Now, think differently
Here, Nepal government taking the project will be huge challenge and they should be bold enough to face it. Thinking that the project is way much bigger and not taking the risk will prove that government is not daring enough. After all, life is all about taking risk. We’ve got engineers who have done enough projects building bridges and highways in hilly areas. We’ve also got the kind of contractors needed. Only, the thing that has been left is ‘government to take the right decision and take that audacious step.’
Well, as the government now is ready to build the project itself, it’s good news for sure. It’s going to be a huge challenge indeed. Should they complete it with no disruption, there will surely be a turnover in history of Nepal towards such developmental tasks. Whatever it is, we all Nepalese hope that it will be done in estimated time.
The project has now been handed to Nepal Army by the Puspa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) led government.