Qatar expresses interest to build Nijgadh Airport

Qatar has expressed interest to build the Nijgadh International Airport.

“Other countries have also proposed but the proposal of Qatar is beneficial. Much discussion has been held on the proposal,” a high-level source at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation told Setopati.

Qatar had expressed interest to build the Nijgadh Airport during the Qatar visit of President Bidya Devi Bhandari at the end of October, 2018. The two governments have held a few rounds of discussions on modality of investment and operation since then.

Qatar had first proposed to build it in engineering, procurement, construction, financing (EPCF) model. Nepal government, that has already decided to develop it in build, own, operate, transfer (BOOT), has proposed to Qatar to build it in BOOT model.

“We are close to agreement on BOOT model,” the source revealed. “We will have to do technical study if the model is decided at the political level.”

The finer details about the project will be determined through government-to-government agreement once Qatar is handed the project.

In an interview with Setopati in November 2018, chief advisor to the prime minister Bishnu Rimal had revealed the government will directly negotiate with companies for development of big projects instead of inviting bids through global tender.

Qatar had proposed with Nepal for cooperation in the aviation sector even in the past. Qatar Airways had expressed to become strategic partner after the government took decision to take the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) into company model.

Qatar has prioritized expansion of relation with far away friends after neighbors Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed blockade on it in June 2017.

Qatar Airways procured five percent stake in China Southern Airlines last week.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Nijgadh Airport has been approved until now after feasibility study nearly 25 years back. Modality of construction has yet to be decided. But the government has determined the four corners for the project and is distributing compensation for clearance of land.

The government says the modality for management of Tangiya settlement is in the final stage.

The detailed feasibility study done by South Korean company Landmark Worldwide (LMW) had put the cost of the first stage of the airport at Rs 91 billion.