Connectivity: The construction of a bailey suspension bridge over Gongri river at Shingphurtuma, Trashigang began with the installation of a sachu bumter during the groundbreaking ceremony on September 20.

The 360feet long bridge would connect Udzorong gewog of Trashigang to the Trashigang-Mongar highway at about three kilometers beyond Dremitse (Mongar) zero point.

Construction of 1.5Km each of approach roads from either side of Gongri has now commenced. DoR would carry out formation cutting for a new approach road from Udzorong side while the existing farm road of Dremitse would be improved.

Once the bridge is complete, people of Udzorong need not tread the 25km rough gewog center (GC) road that connects to the Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highway at Khentongmani and drive about another 35Km to reach Trashigang.

Currently, it takes more than three hours to reach Trashigang from Udzorong. The bridge would reduce travel distance by 15Km.

Besides benefiting 441 households from the four chiwogs of Rizor, Barkazor, Jomotshang and Bepam of Udzorong, the bridge would also benefit more than 400 households of Dremitse.

At the ceremony, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said one of his major priorities was the construction of the bridge, not because it was his pledge but for the immense benefits it would bring to the people of Udzorong.

“For the past two years, I was worried and skeptical if the bridge would come through or not,” lyonpo said. “Despite having a suspension bridge for pedestrians, I have seen the troubles our people had to face for years.”

With the completion of the bridge, lyonpo added that Udzorongpas would also have a better and easier accessibility to market their vegetables and dairy products.

“We are expecting the works to begin in another two months and it should be complete by 2017,” lyonpo said.

Trashigang dzongdag, Lungten Dorji said villagers must also offer full support during the construction of the bridge and the approach roads.

“Should any land owned by the villagers fall along the construction area, landowners must cooperate by providing land for a better cause in keeping with the importance of the bridge,” he said.

With the bridge coming up, the gewog is also planning a farm road from Jomotshang until the bridge site at Shingphurtuma. Villagers said it takes almost two hours to reach Shingphurtuma on foot today.

Udzorong gup, Tenzin Tshewang said the gewog remains mostly cutoff during summers because of numerous blocks along the GC road.

“So, villagers prefer using the suspension bridge and from the highway, they have to hitch rides,” he said.

However, chief engineer with the regional office of the Department of Roads (DoR) in Trashigang, Karma Wangdi, said that works to improve and blacktop the GC road has been contracted out through the Project Tied Assistance (PTA).

While improvement activities like taking up permanent works and cross drainages would be carried out along the entire stretch, blacktopping would be initially carried out for 15Km of the GC road.

“For the remaining 10kms, we are trying to manage budget from other GoI projects and works are expected to complete in another three years,” he said.

Funded by the GoI, the estimated cost of the bridge, with a load capacity if 24-tonne with a carriageway width of 3.277 meters is Nu 31M.

Tshering Wangdi,  Dremitse