Contract terminated and new contractors appointed to speed works

Update: The Department of Roads (DoR) in Phuentsholing has terminated the contract of Gaseb Construction and its Nepal based joint venture (JV) partner Kalika Construction for failing to complete the Amochhu bridge on time.

A Siliguri based company Santalall & Brothers Limited (SBL) has been appointed to complete the job now.

The decision to terminate Gaseb and Kalika was approved by a Ministerial Level Tender Committee (MLTC) of works and human settlement ministry. The firms had delayed the project for two months, which according to the committee risked the bridge to more natural disasters.

This is the second termination since the bridge construction started in April 2009. Bhutan Builders and its India based JV partner DK Engineering & Construction private limited were terminated 30 months after the work was awarded. These construction companies had failed to complete 50 percent of the work target in the stipulated time.

With the contract awarded to SBL, the project is expected to complete in the next three to four months. A senior DoR official said SBL signed the new contract agreement on February 16.

“SBL is mobilizing its resources at present,” the official said. “It has mentioned it will take them about a month and half to complete fabrication works that will be done in India.”

SBL, the DoR official said, had stated that the works at the site would not take much time compared with the fabrication works. SBL has constructed Rindegang bridge that connects Gomphu and Panbang in the past, including other projects in Dagachhu.

The deadline to complete the much-awaited Amochhu bridge has been missed several times. Even after its arch erection, a major job of the bridge development completed in 2014, three deadlines have been missed.

Toorsa flood in July 2015 also caused a huge damage to the construction and a loss of about Nu 10M was suffered. A shift in deadline was also triggered due to this flood.

However, DoR officials in Phuentsholing region are positive that the bridge would be completed in the next three to four months. After SBL finished on fabrication and other required works, the department will continue with the civil works such as placing the slab desks and river training.

Amochhu Bridge was initially scheduled to complete in September 2011. The project’s initial budget of Nu 175M later shot up to Nu 255M.

The 175-metre long semi-through type steel arch bridge will be the longest permanent (cemented) bridge in the country. Once complete, the bridge will link the 58km Phuentsholing-Samtse highway, which is also ongoing at the moment.

People from Dorokha, Dumtey, Tading are already planning to shift their businesses to Phuentsholing from Samtse. However, the highway between these two dzongkhags is yet to complete.

The government has sanctioned about Nu 100M for the remaining blacktopping portion in 2015. DoR had estimated and proposed for about Nu 450.7M.

Rajesh Rai,  Phuentsholing