Japanese ambassador and health minister inaugurated the Deychu bridge yesterday

Infrastructure:  Japan’s ambassador to Bhutan, Kenji Hiramatsu and health minister Tandin Wangchuk inaugurated the government of Japan funded Deychu bridge in Athang gewog, Wangdue, yesterday.

The event was to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Bhutan.

More than 200 people from five chiwogs of Athang gathered at the gewog centre, which is around 40km away from Wangdue Bridge, since the evening of March 27 to witness the inauguration event that was scheduled to happen on March 28.

However, due to bad weather conditions, the chopper in which the Japan ambassador and health minister were flying couldn’t take off from Thimphu, and the event was deferred to yesterday.

Despite the delay, people who have come from far-flung villages didn’t return home but stayed at gewog centre and Kamichu bazaar for another night, said Athang gup Khandu Dorji. “We were all excited to witness this event, as it is a historic moment for Athang.”

The 22-metre-long bridge over the Deychu is the first such bridge or developmental activity that has taken place in Athang, said the gup. The government of Japan funded Nu 6.7 million (M).

Gup Khandu Dorji said in March 2014, local leaders of Athang gewog had approached the office of government of Japan based in Delhi through Gross National Happiness Commission for the fund, stating that the people were affected, particularly during monsoon.

“We are thankful to the people and the government of Japan for approving our proposal and providing us with the fund,” said gup Khandu. The bridge would not just benefit the gewog centre but also 91 households and more than 800 people living beyond the gewog centre in far-flung villages.

According to local leaders people had to wait for weeks for the water level to drop to cross the Deychu and transportat goods, and other basic necessities was a major challenge especially in summer. The bridge would help people make proper use of the road connecting the gewog centre and other farm roads to places including Zawa, said local leaders.

They said that requirement of the bridge over Deychu was earlier listed in the gewog development plans, but couldn’t come through as the cost estimated had crossed the gewog’s budget ceiling

Construction of the bridge started early last year.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue