This is a short extract from our Finance and Admin Officer Lopsang Dorje Lama’s Weekly Progress Report.
This week nothing much was done as planned. Sonam had returned from Dhading during the second half of Sunday and went on settling the 2nd and 3rd advance taken for the dhading school project. Next advance was approved on Wednesday and preparation was done to leave for the field visit.
At 9 am on Thursday, we head out for Dhading. Shankar’s driving made me feel nauseous for the most part of the afternoon. Part Payment was made to the Cement and TMT supplier; Next payment will be final. Then we had lunch at Malekhu, Prem dropped us at Adamghat and he left.
One of the few reasons I decided to go for field visit was that I was enthusiastic to get a glimpse of program officer’s work there. After an hour and half’s hike from Adamtar Sonam and I reached Aamdaada. He probably would have done it quicker without me. Work in progress looked great. All the plastering is supposed to finish on Sunday at Aamdaad and all old labours and masons agreed to volunteer the Sunday’s work. As for Mulabari the work is planned to finish on Monday/Tuesday.
I had planned to go to Mulabari the same day, but was exhausted and the nausea hadn’t left from earlier. I hadn’t worn out completely so I decided to leave early next morning. The villager who served food to our program officers daily at Aamdaada apparently went to Adamtar early in the morning so we had to wait for breakfast. The day began late and thus Sonam and I reached Mulabari late. Mulabari’s work looked little slower but it is understandable given the difference in area of the two schools. After returning from mulabari we sat down with Pushpa khatiwada (Tractor/carriage service provider) to discuss about all the transactional anomalies. We had direct approach, had heated exchange of arguments but he didn’t confess anything and was stiff on his ground proclaiming repeatedly to be honest. We couldn’t get any cuts on his pre-agreed rate. I drafted an agreement with him about his involvement in the project. It had to be done because he wasn’t registered service provider and amount of transaction with him was huge. I had planned to return afterwards but it was already late afternoon and I was also tired after walking 45 minutes back and forth Mulabari and Aamdaada so decided to stay the night. Next Day we had scheduled meeting with Block vendor.
Issue of 721 block was settled as follows. Total number of Blocks procured for entire project was 4079, out of which 721 was sub-standard. 121 had immediately been returned that same day. Although I pushed on not paying any money for rest of the 600 blocks, weakness on our part was that some of it was already used, so payment had to be made anyway. However, since the blocks were sub-standard and carriage cost involved was our loss, we held it against the block supplier. So cutting to the chase we decided on paying for 290 blocks out of 600. Block vendor have been fully paid. Afterwards I returned Kathmandu.
There are so many things to discuss on the “lesson learnt from the project” after Sonam and Kaushal returns however my quick observation on my 2 days’ stay are as follows.
– Program officer’s life is rather difficult. Dealing with supplier, mason & labor, sleeping in a not-so comfortable tent for months, having limited option with food, tiring landscape etc.
– Our estimations regarding everything was based on “best case scenario”, they didn’t involve considering the other possible factors that could have brought about undesirable outcomes which could directly/indirectly hamper the project’s completion on time.
– Life insurance and robbery & theft insurance are immediately needed for those who travel frequently during the project.