When it comes efficiency in finding shortcuts, whether for procurement or training, and now promotions, no public enterprise can beat Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
This was evident from the notice for ‘open competition’ for the position of directors for the aerodrome, safety standards as well as electro-mechanical engineering departments.
The competition has a common syllabus for testing the competence of an electrical engineer on the one hand, and a mechanical engineering graduate on the other.
This syllabus can be termed a joke at best, as the two disciplines do not have much in common, according to President of Nepal Engineers’ Association Dhruba Raj Thapa.
The syllabi for the exams, as seen by this daily, indicates a jumbled up mess of jargon thrown in with contents ranging from concepts from undergraduate textbooks to highly specialised International
Civil Aviation Organisation publications on aviation systems that are not readily available to candidates from non-CAAN backgrounds. Dean at Pulchowk Engineering College Tri Ratna Bajracharya said he would discuss the matter with the concerned authorities.
“Since the minimum qualification is post-graduate, a qualification leading to further specialisation in the respective disciplines, this test based on a common syllabus, completely undermines the aim of selecting the best for CAAN under the purportedly ‘open competition’ system,” an official at Nepal Engineering Council commented.
Aspiring CAAN engineers, who currently occupy the lower ranks, benefit from exposure to numerous ICAO seminars as well as training in airport specific systems. With the syllabus loaded with such publicly unavailable contents, the chances of a competitor from outside CAAN cracking the test is negligible, making the contest clearly lopsided, industry insiders admit.
Clearly, cocking a snook at the real intention of an open competition examination, that is, getting the very best from among the candidates, CAAN management is determined to fast-track the careers of some of its employees who enjoy political patronage and are affiliated to specific unions, an engineer who retired from CAAN said.
According to him, the accomplishments of CAAN electrical engineers is evident from the multiple fiascos, including the unused Dhangadi airfield lighting system as well as precision approach path indicator lighting at Lukla, Surkhet and Tumlingtar airports and multiple blackouts at Tribhuvan International Airport. Then one can take the example of the efficiency of mechanical engineering professionals, who are responsible for the decrepit state of baggage conveyor at TIA, the disuse of mechanical equipment worth crores of rupees — procured for measuring pavement classification number and removal of rubber deposits from runways — after conducting extensive factory acceptance tests abroad.
“The Civil engineering department benefits exclusively from its unsurpassed expertise in outsourcing everything starting with the concept of a project, development of technical specifications, engineering designs, preparation of the bid document, evaluation of bids, and finally supervision of the contract,” a senior CAAN executive said.
Yet, none of the projects have met deadlines, especially international competitive bidding, for instance, air transport capacity enhancement project funded by the Asian Development bank. “Despite the known lack of competence among its engineers, CAAN is committed to filling the topmost career positions in the engineering discipline with its own employees,” he concluded.