Rinzin Wangchuk

The infamous Taktikothi stretch along the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway remains prone to major landslides, causing inconveniences to commuters.

Disruption of traffic due to overflow of water over the existing culverts is an annual occurrence.

To address the safety concerns and keep the stretch open for all seasons, Project Dantak initiated constructing a 100 metre reinforced cement concrete (RCC) Taktichhu bridge in May 2019. The design and construction of the bridge, which was outsourced to Poddar Construction Company based in New Delhi at the cost of Nu 150.95 million (M), was supposed to be completed in May this year.

However, more than two years later, progress on the ground is minimal. Only two foundation supports on both the ends have been completed. Work has been completely stalled since March this year.

An official from Poddar Construction Company which had constructed three concrete bridges along Damchu-Chukha byepass road said that they are facing economic losses since all their machinery and labourers remain idle. He said that around 25 workers have been sitting idle for the last three months and are planning to leave for India in the coming week as it is becoming difficult for them to sustain themselves because of lack of work.

“If the workers leave for their hometown, progress on the project is bound to get further delayed as new inductions of labours have become difficult in view of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the official told Kuensel.

A senior official from Project Dantak said that the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the construction of Taktichhu bridge. “It has affected the import of raw materials and additional workers,” he said. However, he said that the bridge would be completed in 2022.

Some sources say that the construction of Taktichhu was stopped after the collapse of the Wangchhu bridge, which was also constructed by Dantak, in February. “It is possible that failure of one bridge is leading to hesitancy in the officials of Dantak leading to delay in other bridge projects,” an official who wishes to remain anonymous said.

Some observers pointed out that such delay in multiple projects is bound to further create problems for Project Dantak in Bhutan in view of increasing demands from the populace for handing over projects with Border Road Organisation (BRO) to the Department of Road (DOR) so that various delayed projects can be completed in time.

Meanwhile, Project Dantak officials said that the findings of the new Damchu-Haa highway bridge are yet to be finalised. Nine expatriate workers died after a newly constructed bridge over Wangchhu collapsed on the afternoon of February 10.

Edited by Tshering Palden