In what can be considered as a milestone in the history of infrastructure development and better connectivity in the country, the government has started constructing a dry port at Chobhar in Kathmandu. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Thursday laid the foundation stone of the dry port in the land that was previously occupied by Himal Cement Factory. The facility to be built at a cost of Rs. 1.5 billion in an area of 11.77 hectares of land has been projected as a station where the trains from China and India will arrive in the next few years. The government has also decided to set up Nepal Ship office and purchase engines to operate the railways. Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Baskota, making public the latest decisions of the government on the same day, informed that the government had already approved the organisational structure of the Nepal Ship office; to be headed by a third class officer of engineering service, it will have a total of 16 employees. The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Technology has been authorised to begin the process to purchase the train. There was considerable scepticism about the commitment of the government to operate its own railway and ship. With the decision to establish the Ship office and to purchase a train through a government-to-government model with India, the Oli government has indicated that it is determined to push the projects to a logical conclusion.
The incumbent government promised development and prosperity to the countrymen right after it assumed office nearly a year ago, but many people now hold the view that it has failed to live up to its promise. They are right to some extent in the sense that the government was unable to deliver at par with the aspirations of the people. The pace of development is yet to gain due momentum because the government was occupied with formulating and enacting necessary laws to expedite the development process. Speaking after laying the foundation stone of the dry port, Prime Minister Oli noted, “There was the Constitution, but no relevant laws. Therefore, we spent a year in making the laws. Now we have created an environment to function and the country will take the desired pace of development.” Meanwhile, the government is all set to hold the Second Investment Summit in the last week of March with a view to attract foreign direct investment for executing the major infrastructure projects and other development works. It may be recalled that a similar summit had been held in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 2015 when a number of investors from various countries, mainly China, had pledged to invest billions of rupees to implement reconstruction and other projects but that could not be realised largely due to inadequate homework on the part of the government.
We can expect better results this time around not only because we have a stable government that has already identified a number of projects to be implemented in the next few years, but also it has gained credibility in the international arena. However, Nepal is a country where development projects get delayed inordinately due to various reasons including the protests of certain interest groups, lengthy and impractical acquisition procedure and irresponsibility of the contractors. The government needs to be extra cautious to overcome these challenges and carry out development works more effectively.