“I think, it’s high time Nepal invested in infrastructure,” said Nepali national cricket team Rohit Paudel upon arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport after taking on giant world cricket teams Pakistan and India in the Asia Cup.
Over the past eight months, the Nepali cricket team has taken a new height. Nepal has been performing well since the middle of League 2.
Nepali players have been practicing at the ICC-recognized TU Cricket Ground in Nepal. But the match cannot be played day and night at this cricket ground as it lacks floodlights.
Cricket fans are hooting in support of their favorite team (standing by the cricket ground) for hours, rain or shine. Many matches were postponed in the past due to bad lights as the evening wore on.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ had on March 17, 2023, directed to install floodlights and a scoreboard at the TU Cricket Ground right away. The government has also allocated a budget, accordingly. But, the National Sports Council has been stuck in the bidding process.
"During this period, the NSP has already called for tenders two times already. Even though five companies filed applications in the first lot, none of them qualified for the bid. Hence the tender has been called for the second time," said NPC Member Secretary Tanka Lal Ghising.
How many companies will apply for the global tender put out for Rs 280 million excluding value-added tax (VAT) will be known within a week.
According to Ghising, the company as desired by the NSP will file the application this time, according to Ghising.
"Even though five companies filed applications, none of them qualified for it," Ghising told Nepalkhaba, "The tender put out for the second time with the deadline of 45 days is expiring in a week."
The NSC which is stuck in the bidding process does not seem to be bothered by the fact that mega cricket matches are taking place in Nepal soon.
The work was supposed to have started in March, but the NSP has not even selected the contractor, yet. If it is found now, it will take almost a year to install the floodlights.
Because he gets nine months legally. That too from the date of signing the contract after completing the bidding process.
However, NSP Member Secretary Ghising claims that the work can be completed within two months.
"If there is an agreement between the two parties, it can be completed in two to three months," said Ghising, "Owing to the obligation to follow the standard of the contract in line with the Public Procurement Monitoring Office, the quality did not match the global tender in the first phase."
According to the NSC sources, the work was stalled citing unnecessary paperwork and bureaucratic procedures after the parties did not strike a deal on the commission.
"Unless the commission deal is sealed, it is unlikely that the contract will be issued for the installation of floodlights at TU Cricket Ground," the source told Nepalkhabar, "The work has been delayed citing the bureaucratic procedures against the direction of the Prime Minister."
Nepal has maintained ODI ranking by defeating UAE in a cricket match held in March under the ICC League 2 at the same cricket ground.
Prime Minister Prachanda who went to TU Cricket Ground to watch the cricket match in March had directed to immediately install the floodlights and a scoreboard.
However, the Prime Minister's direction was not implemented right away. The contract has not yet been signed even by mid-September. Nepali is hosting big cricket matches from coming October. These matches will be held without floodlights and scoreboards.
Nepal is competing in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Asia Region Qualifiers from October 30 to November 9. Prior to this Nepal is likely to play a series with one among Zimbabwe or West Indies.
On March 3, Prime Minister's Press Advisor Govinda Acharya said the NSC had been directed to install floodlights. The Prime Minister has been also sad due to the delayed work.
Chatur Bahadur Chand, the President of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), said that due to the existing technical structure of the NSC, the development of Nepal's cricket infrastructure is unlikely.
"Hence, the government had to take it to a new format, or else it had to be entrusted to the agencies responsible for development, including the Ministry of Urban Development. A few number of technicians of the sports council are not covering 77 districts," he said, "The reason for the delay in the construction of Mulpani Cricket Ground and TU Cricket Ground is because of a few number of technicians. The council's manpower is not efficient."
He went on to say, "The budget allotment alone does not work unless there is a mechanism to put the work into implementation. The government, the line ministry, and the media have to play constructive roles on their part towards it. The NSP is at a snail's pace in terms of infrastructure development. If there were no infrastructure, cricket would die down."
Rohit, the captain of the Nepali Cricket team, says if we are able to improve the infrastructure of the existing cricket grounds, we can organize matches by inviting international teams in Nepal itself.
"We have only one cricket ground -- TU Cricket Ground for practice. There are no cricket grounds at the province level. It would be more convenient for the players to practice if there were at least one cricket ground in each province," said Rohit, adding, "The cricket infrastructure is poor and so is the economic condition of the players. I am well aware of how the players are managing to play. They can concentrate on sports only when they are financially strong. The government and the stakeholders have to think of it seriously."