Construction of the Northern Bypass, a key component of the South Asian Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) project in Phuentsholing has begun.

The construction project comprises of two packages  – the development of a 2.7km road and the construction of a 120-metre bridge over Omchhu.

Among the three components in the SASEC project under Phuentsholing thromde, the Northern Bypass is the largest. A Japanese company, M/s Marushin Shitaka Construction Company Limited and local construction firm M/s Rigsar Construction Private Limited have been awarded the work under a Joint Venture (JV) partnership. A groundbreaking ceremony was held yesterday.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is funding a total of Nu 444.553 million (M) for the project as a grant.

Under package I, a four lane road will be constructed from the second gate in Bau Bazar between Phuentsholing and Jaigoan. This road will meet at the Omchhu’s new bridge near the Amochhu confluence for which the construction is ongoing.

The road will also run through the current vegetable market and connect to another new bridge over Omchhu that will link the road curve on the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway at RBA area. This 120-metre bridge is under package II.

Project coordinator with Phuentsholing thromde, Devi Charan Dhimal said that besides SASEC’s regional objective of connectivity, the Northern Bypass would also aid decongesting the heavy traffic in Phuentsholing.

“When the bypass is ready, heavy trucks will be diverted to this road,” he said, adding that the heavy vehicles then would not have to enter the town.

Package I is targeted to complete by August 2019, while package II will complete in February 2020. Thromde officials said they are optimistic that the mega projects would complete on time.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said that this project would change Phuentsholing forever and solve its decade old problem of traffic congestion.

“However, when development comes, there will be a lot of disturbance during construction,” thrompon said. “Public will have to bear and cooperate for the better.”

Meanwhile, the construction of a mini dry port close to the second gate, which started in April this year and a land customs office at Allay in Pasakha are other two SASEC projects under the thromde.

However, the customs office construction would start only after the restoration of the 1.1km road along the existing road at Allay that was washed away by a flood in 2011.

The restoration work, which is also a SASEC project, is under department of roads. Nu 294M was awarded to a JV firm but it was terminated after failing to complete the targeted works on time.

M/s Marushin Shitaka is also constructing the mini dry port. ADB funded Nu 135.85M.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing