Infrastructure: Despite many obstacles, the construction of the 40-bed Dewathang hospital is finally running smoothly, according to project officials.

But only seven percent of the entire project has been completed as of now since its groundbreaking ceremony in October last year.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay attended the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

The project, which was supposed to start from March this year after the tender was awarded to contractor Yangchenma pvt ltd in February, took off only from June 29.

Project manager Dorji Rabten said this was because after the tender was awarded, during the 10-day petition period, more than five contractors put up grievances with the award process.

He added this delayed the awarding of work and the issue was finally resolved sometime in April, after which work was immediately awarded.

“But even after the tender issue was resolved, when we reached the site, after dismantling the old hospital, the work was disturbed even before we could start,” he said. “It was found they had to also remove electricity and telephone wire connections,” he said, adding the concerned agencies took time to solve this issue further delaying the work.

However, the work on the infrastructure finally started from June 29 after all the issues were resolved.

Yet, the project manager said the project’s work plan is still behind schedule because by now they should have at least completed two blocks, which they haven’t.

“This was not because of material, contractor or labour shortage but because of weather conditions. Continuous heavy downpour in Dewathang disturbed the work completely and the labourers went on leave for the last two months for pujas.”

However, Dorji Rabten added that after “understanding the weather condition of Dewathang” they have now prepared another “well-planned work plan,” with all the machines and materials readied at the site.

“But besides all these, we’re determined that the project will be completed on time, which is June 28, 2019 and opertationalised too,” he said. “With weather conditions improving, the work is also improving day by day.”

The hospital is being constructed on 7.441 acres of land on the site of the old hospital, located within the premises of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) camp at Dewathang, 18km from Samdrupjongkhar.

Financially assisted by the Government of India, a total of Nu 260 million has been earmarked for the construction in the 11th Plan and a sum of Nu 213.712 million in the 12th Plan.

The project so far has spent only Nu 55 million.

The hospital is designed to include state of the art healthcare facilities and an improved out patient department with specialised services like a dental unit, ophthalmology unit, physiotherapy, improved diagnostic radiology facilities and more efficient laboratory services.

Designed with a seismic resistance structural design, the hospital will also have fire safety facilities as per international safety standards.

The hospital once operationalised, will not only cater to expanded healthcare but also provide backstop services for patients’ referrals to Guwahati hospital in Assam, India.

The new hospital will not only benefit the dzongkhag, but also the two neighbouring dzongkhags ofTrashigang and Pemagatshel.

Meanwhile, the old hospital is temporarily running in its few old structures, which are not dismantled. Medical services have not been disturbed.

His Majesty the Third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck inaugurated the existing 20-bed hospital on February 5, 1965. The hospital annually caters to about 30,000 OPD patients.

“This is why we are trying to complete one block as soon as possible, to shift the OPD because the caseloads are more and it might hinder the service,” the project manager added.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Samdrupjongkhar