Travellers suffer as contractors continue to delay maintenance of Putalisadak and Chabahil-Jorpati-Sankhu roads

KATHMANDU, Oct. 12 — Travellers have been suffering because of the sorry state of the major road segments in the Putalisadak and Chabahil-Jorpati-Sankhu areas of Kathmandu. The roads in these areas have remained pathetic for months now, posing serious problems to commuters.

These road segments have remained in dire straits for a long time despite the commitments expressed by the government authorities to accomplish them in the prescribed deadlines. The delay has been blamed mainly on the negligence of the contractors, lack of coordination among the government authorities, the rainy season and the pandemic.

Of these, the contracts for the maintenance of the segments that connect Putalisadak-Kamalpokhari and Gaushala-Chabahil had been issued last March, with the target to complete the projects by August. However, the busy roads are still in a pathetic state.

The Road Division Office awarded the contract of the Putalisadak-Kamalpokhari segment to PR Infrastructure Pvt Ltd. The agreement to complete the reconstruction of the 1,250 meter long City Center-Star Mall-Putalisadak-Shankar Dev Campus road was signed for a cost of Rs 119.40 million.

Almost every year during the rainy season, the road segment remains waterlogged due to the drainage problems. Although the maintenance of drainage has been completed on time, the construction company has been delaying the road repairing works citing the coronavirus pandemic.

Keshab Sharma, director general of the Department of Roads (DoR), said the maintenance of Putalisadak road has been delayed due to the rainy season, pandemic and lockdowns.

Site In-charge, Engineer Umesh Raj Subedi said they had asked the contractor to complete the blacktopping of the 700 meters of Star Mall-Putalisadak segment by Dashain, which will be starting from Saturday. According to him, the construction company has already laid a drainage pipe of size 1,200 millimeters along the road between Shankar Dev Campus and Star

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Ballots sent out to some Westmoreland voters after delay spurred by issues with contractor

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After years of waiting, Larry Franklin was finally ready to cast his first vote for a United States president.

All that was stopping him from doing so was his ballot, which he had expected to receive this week in the mail. On Friday, it had yet to arrive.

Franklin, 67, of Monessen, along with dozens of others, came to the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to cast his vote in person rather than rely on the mail to deliver ballots. Franklin said he wanted to ensure his vote would count ahead of a trip next week to Africa, where he’ll spend the next several months visiting his daughter.

“I don’t know why we don’t have ballots already,” Franklin said.

Franklin’s ballot and nearly 60,000 others were to have been mailed last week. The first batch of ballots was finally sent out to 8,000 voters Friday morning after a weeklong delay, county officials said.

Westmoreland officials blamed the delay on the Ohio-based private company hired to send out mail-in ballots.

“The county’s contracted mailing company, Midwest Direct, has experienced delays due to both increased volume and mechanical issues,” county officials said in a statement.

Officials at Midwest Direct Presort Mailing in Cleveland did not return multiple calls seeking comment.

Because of the delay, Franklin may have to get on the plane next week without voting. County elections officials refused to allow him to vote at the courthouse Friday because his requested ballot was now in the mail.

“Most of my life I was denied to vote, so this is a big deal,” Franklin said. “There’s nothing I can do now. My flight is leaving for Ghana on Oct. 15

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COA demands blacklisting contractors who caused delay of BFP’s modernization program

The Commission on Audit has demanded the blacklisting of contractors who have caused the continued delay in the implementation of the Bureau of Fire Protection’s modernization program that guarantees the establishment of one operational fire station in every municipality and city in the country.

COA revealed in its 2019 BFP annual audit report that was released days ago that 170 fire stations remained unfinished in 2019, or have been abandoned by the contractor due to various reasons.

In the same audit report submitted to BFP Director Jose S. Embang Jr.,  COA Director Michael R. Bacani also revealed that the firefighting agency has transferred P4.309 billion to two procurement service agencies of the government for the purchase of supplies, materials and equipment and to finance various infrastructure projects.

Despite receiving the allocation from the BFP, the Procurement Service of the Department  of Budget and Management and the Philippine International Trading Corporation have failed to deliver the orders for several years now.

“Thus, depriving the agency of the immediate use of the items which are crucial in the discharge of the agency’s operation and unnecessarily making the fund idle in the custody of the PS-DBM and PITC,” COA lamented.

The state audit agency called for an investigation into the cause of delay in the implementation of construction projects with contracts already awarded to construction firms.

These projects are part of the BFP modernization program approved by government.

Auditors  called for the blacklisting of the contractors who have reneged on their contract obligation to deliver on time the fire station projects.

Recovery of liquidated damages and forfeiture of performance bonds of erring contractors were also proposed by COA.

According to the COA report, the implementation of the fire station construction projects has been entrusted to the PITC in 2017 although there was no

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