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Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

The integrated check post (ICP) at Rinchending, Phuentsholing, will be operational within a week’s time, according to officials from the Department of Engineering Services (DES).

The construction began in August 2016 and was expected to be completed by February 2021.

More than a year behind the schedule, many called it a failed project, but DES officials said a labour shortage, lack of construction materials aggravated by the pandemic, four months of lockdown, and re-tendering caused the delay.

Officials explained that the first phase of the work, which was the construction of the reinforced concrete (flyover) deck, began in August 2016 and was completed by December 28, 2018 with about Nu 331 million (M) but major components like construction of offices and gates under the second phase took time, as they had to consult various law enforcement stakeholders like the Department of Law and Order (DLO), police, immigration, census, BAFRA, and customs.




DES director Karma Dupchuk said the department was only able to finalise the requirements of eight stakeholders that will operate the ICP in July of 2019 after thorough consultation and much difficulty.

The department then called for tender for the construction of offices and gates for the ICP, including the Bumpagang ICP in Wangkha, Chukha, in August 2019.

Karma Dupchuk said three bidders submitted their bids, but due to the specific nature of the work and pre-engineered (technology) structure, none of the bidders were qualified. “It had to be re-tendered.”

Then, with the instructions from the ministerial level tender committee (MLTC), the requirements, terms and conditions, and qualifying criteria were revised and the project was re-tendered in December of 2019.




“Had there not been such challenges, the project was slated for completion by February 2021,” Karma Dupchuk said. “Successive national lockdowns posed difficulty in mobilising resources, which have further delayed the project.”

He said it is not a failed project.

“While involvement of multiple stakeholders made it difficult to come to a consensus to list the requirements and clear the existing structures, which delayed the project, it has been completed with desired quality and outlook. We can never treat this as a failed project,” Karma Dupchuk said.

He said the checkpost will be operational once they hand it over to the RBP.

According to the DES chief engineer Dechen Norbu, who is at the site, all the civil work has been completed.

“We are currently doing testing and commission work for CCTVs, automatic vehicle plate reader, ACs, and plumbing works,” he said. “We will be able to hand over the ICP to the RBP within a week.”




Dechen Norbu said the project was only delayed by six months. “The four months’ lockdown hugely affected the project as we couldn’t bring labourers and construction materials.”

The government spent about Nu 57M for the second phase of work.

 

Landslide

Speculations were rife that a landslide had sunk the new ICP at Rinchending.

The monsoon season this year has caused landslides below the existing Rinchending checkpost. Minor cracks have also developed on the road at the checkpost.

DES officials clarified that the landslide will not affect the new ICP, as the cracks are about 150 metres away from the new ICP foundation.

Officials also clarified that detailed sub-soil investigations of the foundation were carried out.

However, this slope below the existing Rinchending check post had posed danger to the existing check post.

Under the National Adoption Program of Action (NAPA)-II project, the Global Environment Facilities (GEF) had also funded mitigation work in 2014, which was completed in 2018. There was no landslide reported then. However, the monsoon has activated the landslide-prone area one more time.

 




Bumpagang ICP at Wangkha, Chukha

The ICP at Bumpagang along the Thimphu-Phuentsholing National Highway also missed the deadline for various reasons. However, it was made operational in November of this year.

Karma Dupchuk said during the execution, incessant rain caused major slide at both the sites of RCC counterfort wall and approach road, which hampered the progress and delayed the overall project duration.

He said that owing to massive excavation work and slope cutting carried out during Phase-I, it was necessary to let the slope stabilise. “Construction work right below the fresh slope imposed risk both in terms of human lives and cost leading to segregation of Phase-II into two more Phases; Phase-II for construction of housing colony and water supply work, and Phase-III for construction of gates and offices.”




The government had to fund Nu 112.57M for Bumpagang ICP construction.

Karma Dupchuk said all the packages of both ICPs at Rinchending and Bumpagang have remained within the projected budget.

“While we wanted to fast track and carry out the work diligently, we encountered many obstacles in the midst of implementation,” he said. “I would still believe that this is one of the best projects implemented during the pandemic situation despite initial delays.”

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