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  Optical fibre backbone network: 22 percent of works completed in four years

KATHMANDU, Jan 1: The Optical Fibre Backbone Network Expansion Project has become sluggish. Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) had initiated the project with the goal of expanding the optical fibre network within two years but the project has made only 22 percent progress in 18 months.

NTA had divided the project of laying optical fibre on 6,331 kilometres of the Mid-hill highway into three sections and given the responsibility of this to three separate companies. Although the work of laying the optical fibre has been completed in one of the three sections, it has not even been started in the remaining two sections.

Nepal Telecom, which had got the responsibility of installing optical fibre in Province no 1, 2 and Bagmati Province under the first section, has completed 22.53 per cent of the works so far. This data is up to December 15.

NTA had signed a two-year agreement with Nepal Telecom in September four years back for laying the optical fibre from eastern part of the country up to Gorkha under the first section. NTA spokesperson Min Prasad Aryal said the Nepal Telecom started the work of laying the optical fibre in May 2019. According to him, the Telecom has given the responsibility of laying the optical fibre and purchasing goods in three provinces under the first section to five companies.

The data shared by NTA as of December 15 shows that the work of laying the optical fibre has been completed in 491 kilometres length in the three provinces. As per the agreement, fibre has to be installed on 2,179 kilometres in the three provinces.

Works yet to start in two sections

Meanwhile, works on expanding the optical fibre network have not been started yet in two of the three sections of the project.

The second section includes 2,160 kilometres in 21 districts of the Gandaki and Lumbini provinces. Works have not been started on this section. The NTA had given the responsibility of laying the optical fibre on this section to the United Telecom. But the work has not started on this section as a case against this is pending at the Supreme Court.

NTA had signed the agreement with UTL for Rs 2.1 billion three years back. It cancelled the agreement with UTL on Baisakh 26, 2076 BS, citing the latter had not started the works within the designated period. The UTL moved the Supreme Court against this decision and the apex court issued an interim order not to cancel the contract with UTL. The NTA went for vacating this order and the case is still pending at the court.

Similarly, the contract for laying the optical fibre in Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces has been awarded to Smart Telecom. The NTA again gave the contract for laying optical fibre on this third section to Nepal Telecom, arguing that Smart Telecom did not start the work in the stipulated time.

However, Nepal Telecom has not started work in this section till date.

[Jan 1, 2021 / myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com]   
 
 
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