The physical infrastructure of the Gautam Buddha International Airport under construction in Bhairahawa (Rupendehi), a project of national pride, is almost complete. Now only some technical work is left at the airport including lighting and equipment connection. At present, the airport has 92 percent physical progress and 63 percent financial progress.
If the Kovid-19 epidemic had not occurred, the airport would have been busy with commercial operations at the time. Kovid has delayed the technical work of project construction. Work on other physical infrastructure continued during the shutdown. Only the technical work of the airport remains. Chief Admission Officer of Gautam Buddha International Airport Project said that the technical work was very challenging. According to him, even though most of the equipment has already arrived, there is a challenge to bring manpower from abroad as international flights are not easy. The work of connecting the equipment inside the terminal building of the airport is still pending. Equipment including baggage handling, passenger safety test machine, AC is in the process of connection.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai has been repeatedly giving on-site inspections and instructions to make the construction work of the airport effective and to facilitate the administrative work. Releasing the annual progress booklet of the Ministry of Tourism for the last time, Minister Bhattarai informed that the construction work of the airport has been intensified and necessary initiatives are being taken to complete the remaining technical work.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has stated that the Gautam Buddha Airport will be operational only from the beginning of the year 2021. This is a project that has made rapid progress after reaching the airport in a critical condition. Work on the airport, which began in early 2015 to be completed by December 2017, was hampered by negligence on the part of the contractor. Over the next two years, the project progressed significantly.
The construction period of the airport was last extended till March 2020. The project, which is in danger of being delayed due to technical reasons, will be further delayed due to Corona’s panic. The airport is being built by Chinese construction company Northwest Civil Aviation Construction Group. The project, which is being constructed with a concessional loan from the Asian Development Bank, will cost around Rs. 7.32 billion in both phases, according to NEA.
International air service providers must be notified six months in advance of international airport operation. In terms of construction, even if all the work is completed in six months, it will take another six months for the airport to come into commercial operation. It is believed that the pressure of the current Tribhuvan International Airport will be reduced when this airport with a total width of 45 meters and a runway of 3,000 meters comes into commercial operation.
The work on the runway of the airport, taxiway and civil construction of Popron has been completed and electricity work is underway. The construction of international terminal building, administrative building, fire prevention building and control tower has been completed and equipment is being connected. The work of constructing the inner wire and drain of the airport is also in the final stage. The equipment under ICB Zirotu has already arrived at the project site and the pre-connection physical infrastructure is being prepared.
Work at the airport continued during the shutdown. Link taxiway connecting runway and ship parking area has been completed. Perimeter road, construction of fencing, construction of drains, filling of vacant space around the runway has been done. Structures for air conditioning, painting, fire control and equipment control were constructed in the international terminal building. Chinese-made conveyor belts, runways and taxiway electrical materials, including lights, have arrived. At present, a letter has been sent to the concerned body with the necessary documents to bring 35 Chinese skilled technicians for the equipment connection.
Hardware related materials like cement, poles, marble, tiles, aluminum have been supplied. Around 275 workers, including 29 Chinese, worked daily during the shutdown. The airport had made about 4.5 percent progress during the period.