The country’s three cold storages, worth Nu 127 million, were intended to be finished by the end of August this year, but the project is set to be delayed.
According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Food Corporation and Bhutan Limited (FCBL), Naiten Wangchuk, the two cold storage facilities in Sarpang and Wangdue will be completed and handed over to the government by the end of October, however, the construction of a cold storage facility in Trashigang might be completed by the mid of December this year.
He stated that the foundation for cold storage construction in Wangdue and Sarpang is nearing completion. Because creating the foundation takes time, about 60 percent of the effort has gone into it.
“We had intended to finish by the end of August, but we won’t be able to because we are now experiencing a manpower shortage. We need specialized labour for pre-engineered building, and there is a moratorium on getting labour due to the pandemic. So if we don’t obtain it, we’ll be in trouble,” he stated.
He added that the land in Khaling had water underneath it, which needed to be diverted and a cannel constructed.
“It’s likely that the construction of cold storage in Khaling in Trashigang will take some time. We’ve also spoken with the Vocational Training Institute (VTI) about assisting us, however, the VTI is also working on a quarantine facility project in the southern border. We’ll be meeting with the VTI principal and members soon,” he added.
FCBL is dealing with a skills gap, and while Bhutanese workers are capable, they are not highly skilled. “We don’t want to jeopardize the quality or put ourselves at risk,” he explained.
He also stated that obtaining materials is not a problem because they are produced within the company. Weather is also obstructing work in Sarpang, as it is pouring, and the task involves cement, but it is still manageable. It is expected that cost may escalate due to the duration of the project.
“However, we are doing our utmost to stay within the allocated budget,” he said.
These cold storage facilities are being constructed to facilitate trading for both the domestic and international markets. Essentially, the cold storages will aid vegetable output by allowing crops to be stored.
FCBL has decided to build at the three locations based on the population in Khaling, the need for trading in Sarpang, and the need to store potatoes in Wangdue.