Pokhara Airport of Nepal
The countries of the world have now become cautious about China, which has trapped China by giving huge loans in the name of infrastructure projects. China has given huge money to many countries in the name of development projects, Nepal is also one of them. But, now anti-corruption officials in Nepal have started investigating the major airport built with Chinese money.
The US $ 216 million international airport built in Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city, opened in January this year. More than a decade ago, China had agreed to provide a loan for the construction of the airport. Nepal awarded the contract here to CAMCE, a subsidiary of China National Machinery Industry Corporation. The New York Times reported last month that CAMCE had inflated the project cost. Additionally, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (which oversees the construction of the airport) did not raise much objection, unwilling to anger Beijing over the project, which was important to both China and Nepal.
More than 20 complaints received about the airport
Shortly after the report was published, Nepal’s Abuse of Authority Investigation Commission raided the offices of the Civil Aviation Authority in Pokhara and seized documents related to the project. Anti-corruption agency spokesman Bola Dahal confirmed that the airport was being investigated. The agency launched the investigation in response to complaints of irregularities in the project. Local media reported that the agency has received more than 20 complaints about the quality of the airport’s construction.
The investigation has dealt another blow to the reputation of China’s overseas infrastructure projects. The projects have been criticized for their high cost and poor quality, leaving the borrowing countries heavily in debt. Nepal has been seeking to build an international airport in Pokhara since the 1970s to turn the city into a tourist destination. Nepalese officials have called the project a “national pride,” as it is seen as a gateway to the Himalayas, one of Nepal’s most famous destinations.
Under the constitution, Nepal’s anti-corruption agency has the power to investigate large-scale corruption cases and bring charges before independent tribunals. This year a former government minister and a current member of Nepal’s parliament were found guilty on charges brought by anti-corruption agencies.
There were problems with the quality of construction
“Anti-corruption investigators spent two or three days in Pokhara to look into construction quality issues at the airport,” said Jagannath, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority. Several engineers involved in the construction of the airport told investigators that there were problems with the quality of construction and that the infrastructure of the project was inadequate.
Murali Gautam, an external consultant appointed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, said that CAMCE has completed fill work for the airport runway but has not provided documents to test the density of the soil, meaning that Nepalese officials could not ensure whether the runway foundation was properly built or not.
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