Nishioka Bridge to be completed by June

Nishioka Bridge the second longest bridge in the country being built in Panbang under Zhemgang Dzongkhag will be completed by June this year.

The bridge was earlier slated for a December deadline last year.

According to the Project Director under Department of Roads (DoR), , Pravat Rai the delay in construction does not mean that the assigned contractor failed to do their job.“Actually the work plan that the contractor submitted to DoR estimated that within three months the works will be completed,” he said.

It was approximated from the work plan that the work would be completed by December 2012. But erecting the bridge arch was critical and it took three months.Erecting the bridge arch is the most critical work, said the project director. It needs to be placed accurately and each arch weighs 8 to 9 tons.

Earlier the construction of the bridge was delayed due to multiple reasons. Pravat Rai said the bridge would otherwise have been completed in August 2011.

Among the many reasons for the delay a prominent reason is Panbang Dungkhag’s inaccessible location, where people have to travel through Assam.Procuring construction materials from neighboring states, especially in monsoon, is an arduous task. Laborers absconding from the sites added to the delay.

“The major problem was the lack of expertise to erect the steel arch bridge,” said the Project Director.

The department has managed the situation by hiring human resources from India with monitors from DoR.

“Almost 91% of work is done, now all that is left is the deck slab preparation of the bridge,” he said.

The original budget allocated for the Nishioka Bridge was Nu 152mn.

However, people in the region still grumble about the sluggish pace of development on the bridge’s construction. Gup Rinchen Wangdi said the Highway construction and other developmental activities have been held back due to lack of a the bridge.

People who constantly travel crossing Nishioka suspension bridge and travel through Assam states of India are not safe due to security reasons and frequent strikes. Residents even cross the river when they have to carry heavy loads paying a minimum Nu 1,000.

“Paying an amount and carrying our load is acceptable. But two weeks back I had to wait a whole day since heavy equipments were transported to the other side of the river,” said a resident, Sonam.

Rinchen Wangdi said the construction of the bridge was initially scheduled to complete within 18 months when it started in February 2010.

The completion of bridge is expected to facilitate road construction for the gewog. The take-off point for the road was from Praling under Trong Gewog and ends in Pangthang with a bridge.The construction for the bridge in Pangthang is already awarded and would take another two years to complete. Even the blacktopping for road from Panbang was also awarded.In total the budget allocated for the Zhemgang highway was Nu 1046mn.The transportation facilities in the region would benefit 800 households of lower Kheng.

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