On the road in Nepal

From 29 September – 7 October, InfraCo Asia’s CEO Allard Nooy and Director of Projects and operations, Ian McAlister took to the roads of Eastern and Central-Western Nepal to visit project sites and meet with local communities and stakeholders.

/InfraCo Asia Images/Nepal_visit_2016_Allard_and_IanAllard and Ian travelled together with personnel from Equicap Asia, who deliver InfraCo Asia’s South Asia Developer Services Program, and a team from InfraCo Asia’s Nepalese partner, Butwal Power Co (BPC). The contingent visited the Kabeli-A (KBL-A) and Lower Manang Marsyangdi (LMM) Hydroelectric Power Projects. KBL-A is a 37.6MW peaking run-of-river hydro plant, with financial close anticipated by the end of 2016. The LMM project is a much newer prospect, still at pre-feasibility stage.

Landslides caused delays along the way, bringing home the challenges that come hand in hand with the Nepal’s development opportunities. InfraCo Asia’s visit was an essential part of the process of keeping abreast of real conditions on the ground that can affect development activities. The mission was to obtain first-hand information about the situation at project sites and any associated risks requiring mitigation.

As well as touring project sites, Allard and Ian met with Nepal’s Minister of Land Reform and Management, Minister of Energy, and with InfraCo Asia donor, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) in Nepal.

/InfraCo Asia Images/Nepal_visit_welcome_bannerIan McAlister joined InfraCo Asia in August this year, and his role involves ensuring that all stages of project development meet the highest quality standards, and keep to schedule. Ian said his first journey to InfraCo Asia project sites in Nepal brought home the rewards and complexities of working in early-stage development.

“After a long journey from Kathmandu to Phidim, we travelled firstly to the Kabeli power station site, and then later to the dam site,” Ian (3rd from right) said.

“Large banners were strung across the road, welcoming our visit. We gained a real sense of the very good relationship that exists between the Kabeli project preparation site team and the local community.”

Set amid a “wide and lush river valley,” Ian said the power station and dam sites will be settled sensitively into the scenic landscape.

“It was good to be able to spend time with the Kabeli project preparation site team and to see their confident and friendly interactions with the local community, particularly with respect to social and environmental management issues,” Ian said.

/InfraCo Asia Images/Nepal_visit_mapHeading to the LMM project site to the west of Kathmandu, in the Annapurna Conservation Area in Central Nepal, InfraCo Asia’s representatives found themselves at the equally spectacular Marsyangdi River.

“The access route to the LMM project site had endless stunning vistas and spectacular waterfalls, but is certainly not for the faint-hearted,” Ian said.

“The beauty of Nepal, particularly within the Annapurna Conservation Area, highlights the huge responsibility InfraCo Asia has," he said.

"Nepal is beset by power shortages which must be met, but it takes a careful approach to ensure a commercially viable, low-impact project is the end result. InfraCo Asia and its expertise have a very important role to play.”

The “major landslide” that disrupted Ian and Allard’s return journey necessitated a detour to Pokhara to catch the last flight of the day back to Kathmandu.

At Pokhara, Ian said a beautiful spot around Phewa Lake, near the city centre provided an oasis from the city’s industrial fringe and a picturesque final pit-stop.

“I hope to return to Nepal with more time to explore,” Ian said.

“It’s a challenging place to travel, but it will be a joy to see it develop further, provided it happens in the right way.”