The bridge is scheduled to be completed by December

Council: While no cost escalation is expected for the Phuentsholing-Samtse highway, construction of the Amochhu bridge has already exceeded its initial cost estimate of Nu 161.607 million (M) by 137.594M as per the works and human settlement minister’s written response to National Council.

The upper house had written to the government during the 17th session of Parliament on the status and cost of the Amochhu bridge and construction of the Phuentsholing-Samtse highway. The highway is yet to be completed despite being under construction for over 11 years. The Council asked when the two projects will be completed.

“The expenditure till date is Nu 299.201M including the works executed by the department valued at Nu 50.01M, cost of hanger cables amounting to Nu 14.498M and fabrication and erection of the damaged girder at Nu 24.43M,” stated the response from the ministry.

This year Nu 39.220M is budgeted to complete departmental works and clear pending bills. The bridge according to the ministry, is expected to be completed by December end after the main girder beam is installed. “After the main girder is installed, the department will carry out the remaining works on the bridge deck and approach roads and it is expected to be completed by December 2016,” the ministry responded.

The ministry attributed the delay in the bridge construction to termination of joint ventures for unreasonable delays in the works. Although 95 percent of the works were completed at the time of the termination of joint venture, floods in July last year caused further delays after the main structure was destroyed.

But the ministry said the cost of the Phuenstholing-Samtse national highway would not escalate from its initial budget outlay of Nu 1.189 billion (B). “Even when the remaining works are completed, the total cost of the road will be within the total outlay of Nu. 1.189B.”

The ministry attributed much of the delay to slashing of budget every financial year. As a result the targeted works could neither be executed nor achieved.

As of now, works worth Nu 805M has been completed, which includes, formation cutting on 54 kilometres (km), a base course for 46km, bituminous sealing on 46km and permanent works on 54km. “The works are now in full swing and due for completion,” the ministry stated.

The ministry also pointed out that the formation cutting on 4km from Samtse, which falls within the Phuentsholing thromde has begun with finalisation of the alignment between the thromde and the Dhamdhum industrial estate. The delay in finalisation of alignment between the thromde and industrial estate earlier hindered the construction of the road.

Blacktop on a 35km stretch from Samtse to the Amochhu Bridge has been completed. Base course, blacktopping are in progress on an 11km stretch. Base course and blacktopping works on the remaining 4km will be done by 2017.

On the Phuentsholing side, formation cutting and permanent works on a 4km stretch from the Amochhu bridge to Chamkuna has been completed.

Nevertheless, work on the remaining 4km stretch from Chamkuna to Phuentsholing is yet to be started because of non-finalisation of the Amochu Land Reclamation Project.

Tempa Wangdi