There is not a single labourer working at the site

Ten years on and the construction of a 55-metre through-type bridge over Singeychhu in Sampheling gewog, Chukha, still remains incomplete.

The Nu 39.41 million (M) government of India funded bridge construction started in January 2007 under project DANTAK.

The issue was also raised at the parliament once but villagers say nothing happened at the site. “There is no follow up from any authorities and no progress with the construction.”

In October 2015, Project DANTAK resumed work after the media reported that construction was at halt for almost two years. Rangeytoong villagers say it has been a month since work was stopped completely and it is not clear when it would resume.

Once complete, this bridge will connect the Paskaha alternative route that serves as a national highway between Phuentsholing and Thimphu.

A resident of Rangeytoong, Manbir Rai, 60, said he forgot when the bridge construction began. “The construction prolonged,” he said. “We would like to see a new bridge over Singeychhu.”

Considering the delays, Manbir Rai said that nobody in the village is certain when the bridge would open to traffic and benefit the people. “It is my wish to see the bridge open to traffic.”

Meanwhile, there is an existing Bailey bridge over the river, which connects the Pasakha alternative highway. However, the bridge’s carrying capacity is 24 metric tonnes.

In 2016, when the current Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway was closed for traffic due to a landslide at Kamji, the Pasakha alternative route served as the main highway. However, trucks and trailers carrying loads above 24MT were not allowed to ply the Bailey bridge over Singeychhu.

Transportation of heavy equipment to the Mangdechhu hydropower project was also halted for several months until the Kamji problem was solved.

A Rangeytoong villager, Kaluman Rai, said that the existing Bailey bridge might not endure for long. “A new bridge is a must. We have seen works progress for some time and stop for some time and start again.”

He said it appears as if no one is taking the bridge construction seriously.

Another resident, Tek Bahadur Gurung, said he first came to Rangeytoong when the bridge construction started and it is surprising that even after a decade, the construction remains incomplete. “This delay is an ultimate loss to both people and the government.”

He said that the bridge is important, as it would serve, as an alternate route should the present highway get blocked.

Tek Bahadur Gurung said that the bridge would benefit the farmers along the highway and more than 300 households in three villages of Rangaytoong, Dhungana and Pakchina in Sampheling.

While people are still waiting for the bridge over Singeychhu to complete, the department of roads (DoR) is planning to reinforce the existing Bailey bridge to a double Bailey bridge with a higher load capacity.

An official from DoR said they would upgrade the bridge with available materials.

Rajesh Rai | Pasakha