China’s Airport Failure: Pokhara’s Costly Regret

The Pokhara Regional International Airport, constructed with a loan from China, has thus far been unable to accommodate international flights. Additionally, the high interest rates and tight installment deadlines imposed by banks under the influence of the Chinese government have begun to expire. Following the failure of the ‘Game Changer’ project for the people of Pokhara, residents have begun to voice their concerns.

Today, residents of Pokhara aired their grievances in a public hearing, demanding the immediate resumption of international flights.

During the program jointly organized by Rastriya Ekta Abhiyan and the Independent Journalists Association Kaski, various stakeholders urged the government to operate the airport at its full capacity.

Vinay Yadav, President of Rastriya Ekta Abhiyan, emphasized that the people of Pokhara had made significant investments in the airport’s construction and expressed disappointment with its current state. He called upon stakeholders to prioritize the full operation of the airport as the need of the hour.

Key speakers at the event included Anand Raj Mulmi, former Central President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Yuganath Sharma Paudel, analyst; Basudev Tripathi, tourism expert; Kumar Rana, social worker; and Bimala Bhandari, District President of the Federation of Journalists Kaski, who all shared their perspectives.

The collective message from the people of Pokhara was clear: the inactivity of the international airport is unacceptable, and immediate action is needed to address the factors hindering its operation.

Despite the official opening of the airport in January 2023, Pokhara residents are disappointed due to the lack of international flights. Moreover, not only the locals but the entire country is concerned about the loan taken for the airport’s construction. Consequently, speakers urged the government to convert the loan from China into a grant, thus reducing the financial burden on the nation.

Similarly, speakers also highlighted allegations of corruption in the airport’s construction process, demanding a thorough investigation to ensure transparency and accountability.

The costly airport, built with a $215.96 million soft loan from the Export-Import Bank of China, witnessed its first international flight only on June 21, a full six months after its inauguration. To date, only five international flights have occurred.


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