The Pasakha-Manitar highway, used as an alternative route connecting Phuentsholing to Thimphu, is being improved and repaired under an ADB funded project.
This includes black topping the 41.50 km road and rebuilding the Bhalujhora bridge, which was badly damaged in last year’s monsoon.
Chief Engineer of DoR, Lungten Jamtsho, said they are concerned about the Pasakha access road which consist of two major bridges, naming Bhalujhora bridge of 122.85 mtr span and Bhawanijhora bridge of 50 mtr span.
The project also consists of gabion check dams and retaining walls, formation excavation and embankment and pavement layer works. The department had awarded the work to SPML-Gaseb-Maccaferri Joint Venture (JV), Bhutan/India on 1 June 2015 at a contract amount of Nu 294.1 million for a period of two years. However, the contract was terminated on 16 January 2016 with no progress in work.
DoR, with the relevant stakeholders, are currently doing an assessment and have reached the final stage which will be submitted to the committee.
They have now requested ADB to go only for national bidders. “We are hoping to get the approval at the earliest so that we can award the work before the monsoon this year and to address settlement issues in Pasakha,” Lungten Jamtsho said. “We don’t have any other alternative before the completion of Bhalujhora bridge but like last year, if the river gets wider or if debris comes down, then we will mobilise people use machinery and excavators to make the road trafficable for heavy and medium vehicles.”
He also said that it might cause some inconvenience to the commuters as they might have to wait according to how heavy the rainfall is or how major the debris or loose soils are. “If we go for a construction of temporary bridge, it might be very expensive,” he added.
A temporary bailey bridge has been placed on top of the current damaged Bhalujora bridge, to allow movement of light vehicles. Heavy vehicles are, as of now, plying across the river to get to the other side but this may not be possible only the rainy season begins.
The chief engineer said that even if the contract for the bridge is awarded it will take at least two years to be completed.
Meanwhile, Executive Engineer, Neten Tshering, DoR, Phuentsholing said that, it was felt necessary to improve the Passakha to Manitar SNH Road by blacktopping and filling potholes.
He also said that the maintenance budget is Nu. 4.72m for a year. “We will soon start blacktopping once we get approval from ADB project and are allocated with the budget”, he added.