Lhakpa Quendren

Sarpang—The construction of the steel composite bridge over the Panchfaly stream, connecting Umling and Tareythang with the rest of the gewogs of Sarpang, is expected to provide a permanent solution once completed.

The steel composite bridge, incorporating both steel and concrete elements, spans 40 meters with abutments measuring 14 meters in height and 8 meters in width. The construction of the bridge, estimated to cost Nu 67.45 million, was  awarded to 8 Builders Construction. The construction started in late January this year and is aimed to be completed by July 2025.

The bridge construction was prompted by the collapse of a temporary culvert in July last year, just two months after completion, due to heavy rainfall. Before that, the vented causeway was washed away by debris in 2018, which together cost Nu 5 million in construction.

The executive engineer of the Sarpang region’s surface transport department, Ugyen Dorji, said that the bridge was designed and planned to ensure its durability.

However, he said, the damages from disasters are uncertain. “Landslides have occurred at four locations on both sides of the stream, causing debris to be carried downstream. We have visited the water sources to inspect the risks associated with the stream.”

“The construction is progressing according to plan. By June this year, 25 percent of the work must be completed,” Ugyen Dorji added. “During the upcoming monsoon, a dedicated excavator will be stationed to keep the road open for traffic.”

“Despite our attempts to explore the possibility of restoration, we were unable to execute the bridge construction due to the site conditions,” he said, adding that the design required about three months to complete.

After  experts from the infrastructure and transport ministry conducted a feasibility study on the site, the bridge construction was moved a few meters down from the previous location.

Half the width of the road, measuring about 130 meters on the Umling side and 30 meters on the Serzhong and Chhuzagang sides, was washed away last monsoon.

“We plan to complete 6 meters of the stem and footing on both sides before the monsoon to ensure that the work progress is not hindered by the rainy season,” Project engineer Bhim Bahadur Mukhia said, adding that the company had employed about 100 workers, including 20 local labourers.

Umling Gup Sangay Tenzin said that, given the standard of the road, a permanent bridge was deemed necessary. “With the Gyalsung project, the gewog center road was upgraded to a secondary highway with improved quality, benefiting the residents and farmers.”

“The Panchfaly stream has been a major problem for us every monsoon due to the absence of a permanent bridge,” he said. “Surface transport has explored alternatives to avoid such problems in the future, and we are hopeful the bridge will last.”

The bridge would benefit not only the residents of two gewogs but also play a significant role in other important projects, including the upcoming Gelephu Mindfulness City.