Yangyel Lhaden

When Thimphu Thromde decided to construct the first overhead pedestrian bridge in Olakha last year, officials declared it would complete the project in a record time of five months.

The construction took more than a year and three months, and was finally completed in September, but the bridge remains closed for pedestrians and the entranceways are blocked with jute ropes.

Thimphu residents are now questioning why the thromde is not allowing people to use it.

A resident, Phuntsho Dorji, said that the construction of the bridge took longer than expected and even after completion, it is not open to the public. “I wonder why the thromde is not inaugurating the bridge. Maybe it is not safe to use?”

A thromde official said a contractor is executing the site development around the bridge and due to safety reasons, the pedestrian bridge has not been opened for public use. “Technical inspections also need to be carried out before the bridge is opened to the public.”

But a shopkeeper near the overhead bridge said he has not seen anyone working there.

Students studying in the school nearby said they are waiting for the bridge to open so that they can cross the highway safely. “The highway is risky, especially for small children,” a student said.

A corporate employee said that thromde should prioritise constructing many more such overhead bridges, considering the increasing number of vehicles on the road every year, and reckless drivers. “Many people are waiting for the Olakha overhead pedestrian bridge to open.”

The overhead pedestrian bridge is earthquake resistant and is 5.4m high and 26m long, ornamented with Bhutanese designs.

The bridge is expected to reduce road accidents, streamline traffic movements, and increase the safety of pedestrians.

The construction of the overhead pedestrian bridge started as a pilot project worth about Nu 3 million by Thimphu Thromde, to be replicated in other areas of thromde that experience a lot of traffic.

Edited by Tashi Dema