Fox guarding the coop
Kantipur, 24 September
Three contractors, who have violated multiple deadlines and failed to complete government projects worth billions, are now members of a parliamentary committee responsible to monitor and evaluate progress made in government infrastructure projects.
It was already a case of conflict of interest when Hari Narayan Rauniyar of Pappu Construction, Jipchhiring Lama of Lama Construction and Bahadur Singh Lama of Hindung and Thoker Company were elected MPs last year. Now, these three MPs-cum-contractors have been nominated by their respective parties as Members of the Development Committee of Parliament whose job is to monitor infrastructure projects and take action against contractors who fail to finish work within deadlines.
We have an absurd situation where Rauniyar and the Lama duo control a parliamentary committee which is supposed to punish the very companies they own. Rauniyar is an elected MP representing the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSPN), a Tarai-based party supporting the KP Oli government. The Lamas were nominated MPs by the opposition Nepali Congress.
Rauniyar’s Pappu Construction has recently become a notorious symbol of non-performance, especially after a boat carrying 29 people capsised in Lalbakaiya river of Rautahat district in August, where Pappu took the money but never completed the bridge over the river four years ago. As luck would have it, the ill-fated boat hit a concrete pillar left uncompleted by Pappu. Five people were killed and 21 others were rescued alive.
Pappu has left many other government projects incomplete, or is taking too long to finish them. An arrest warrant has been issued against Pappu’s Chair Sumit Rauniyar for negligence that caused the Rautahat boat tragedy. But his MP-father and the company’s real owner, Hari Narayan Rauniyar, is now in the parliamentary committee.
Jipchhiring Lama’s company bagged the contract to repair the Chabahil-Jorpati-Sankhu road, but it was never completed, forcing thousands to wade through the muddy road every day. A retreat hosted at Gokarna Resort for BIMSTEC leaders was cancelled last month after Thailand’s Prime Minister refused to travel through this crater-filled road. But Lama is now in the powerful parliamentary committee, and his company is unlikely to be ever punished for this and other incomplete projects.
Bahadur Singh Lama’s company was supposed to complete construction of a bridge in Nuwakot last year. But only 25% work has been completed so far, and he has not met deadlines in other projects as well. The Department of Roads says he has not completed projects worth Rs 12 billion even after multiple deadline extensions. He is also in the committee that is supposed to investigate contractors like him. Parliament’s guidelines and Code of Conduct bar the MPs from participating in parliamentary debates over the issues related to them. With these three contractor-MPs, there is a clear case of conflict of interest.