Personality

A Lifetime’s Experience In Construction

May 22, 2015 |

RAJENDRA PRASAD KAYASTHA, A PIONEERING CIVIL ENGINEER, POINTS OUT THE MALPRACTICES THAT HINDER THE GROWTH OF THE NEPALI CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY AS HE BRINGS HIS MANY DECADES OF EXPERIENCE WORKING FOR SELECT INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES INTO THE ANALYSIS

 

What is in a name or a title, even? What makes a person really stand out from the crowd is their life’s work and experience. Rajendra Prasad Kayastha, a pioneering civil engineer who has contributed his life to the construction industry is one person whose actions truly speak louder than words. Here is a man known in all circles for his professional profi ciency and achievements, as well as his devotion to his chosen field of work.

Originally from Bhaktapur, Kayastha was schooled in Kathmandu during his formative years. He obtained his B.E. in Civil Engineering from what was then one of the top regional engineering colleges in India, the Karnataka Regional Engineering

College, Surathkal (now NIT) under Mysore University, obtaining a first class with distinction in 1972.

Kayastha’s career is almost a montage of multiple civil engineering experiences. He started work as the designate quality control/material engineer of the Tribhuvan International Airport Project in 1972. The project was possibly the first ICB Contract in Nepal. Simultaneously, he worked as site engineer, surveyor, planner, estimator, quantity surveyor and contract administrator in various civil engineering projects such as building, airports, bridges, flyovers, highway, hydropower projects, industrial buildings (fertilizer factories and thermal power plants, among others),

irrigation projects, sub-stations and waterfront structures (Jetty).

One of the most challenging jobs he has completed was the successful installation of no less than eleven 120-metre deeper open-ended caissons (which are still believed to be among the world’s deepest caissons) across the 11 km wide Jamuna River in Bangladesh. These caissons were to be the foundation structure for the equally high (110 m) 132 KVA transmission towers. Kayastha has worked exclusively for multinational construction companies– both Japanese and Korean, and a Canadian Consulting Firm. Additionally, he has 10 years of experience working in Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Bijaya Laxmi Rai spoke to Kayastha about his experiences working in foreign countries, asking him to compare his personal international work experiences with present-day construction practices in Nepal. The veteran engineer expressed his analysis in the following manner:

  • Quality control seems to have taken a back seat as concerned parties do not pay much attention to maintain high standards of quality and workmanship in Nepal.

  • Most projects are delayed due to i ) lack of and late issuance of drawings, ii ) unreliable survey data, iii) numerous changes in original design, iv) lack of immediate decision-making abilities in field and senior project staffs.

  • Variation in orders that often fall into conflict with contract provisions. The fact is that, in government projects, variation in orders are subject to approval by some sort of political committee which is disgraceful to the engineering community.
  • Late contract payments: Monthly payments are just another form of advance payment and need not be checked and re-checked rigorously like final payment. In PPP hydropower projects, funding agencies interfere with the performance and administration of the contract, which seems to be the major cause of delay in payments. This directly affects work progress, which in turn, causes huge loss of revenue to the power producer.

  • Non-professional attitude towards contractors and lack of experience of contract administration which can be seen in everybody from project managers to engineers also greatly contribute to the project delay. Employers and engineers have the indirect obligation of cooperating with the contractor at hand to ensure full performance of the contract. After all, when a project is completed in time it is the employers who benefit the most.

Kayastha is still active despite his age. He is currently running the Akara Materials Testing Laboratory, established with the sole purpose of providing much needed and best-possible services in the testing of construction materials, quality control, geo-technical engineering, field investigations, and tests such as load tests on soils and foundations piles, and rock drilling work.

In addition, this multifarious personality is also a member of the Rotary Club and life member of the Nepal Council of Arbitration (NEPCA), which works to resolve construction disputes.

 


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