YK Poudel

The construction of the Diana Khenphen Zam in Norbugang, Samtse is progressing well and is expected to be completed seven months ahead of its deadline in November 2024.

The 280-metre Diana Bridge will connect Samtse dzongkhag headquarters with nine gewogs of the dzongkhag through the Samtse-Tashichholing Secondary National Highway.

Rigsar Construction Private Limited (RCPL) began the work in July 2021 with funding of Nu 196 million from the Government of India.

Project Manager Sonam Wangdi of RCPL stated that painting, light installation and final touches are still in progress.

He said, “As of last month, we have completed over 90 percent of the work. As per our plan, we are aiming to complete it by November 2023.”

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, work on the project has continued with all containment protocols in place, and many local workers were employed when foreign workers were unable to work during the pandemic.

Inflation did not have an adverse impact on the project as there was a price adjustment agreement for the project.

“We employed 45 Bhutanese workers during the foundation work. Currently, we only have six workers left who are working on painting the railings,” Sonam Wangdi said.

According to the contractor, there were no major challenges faced during the construction, although getting adequate raw materials on time and procuring cement from within the country were minor issues.

The old 300-metre suspension bailey bridge, the longest bridge in the dzongkhag, will be replaced by the new Diana Bridge, which can carry 70 metric tonnes, in contrast to the former bridge’s six metric tonne capacity. The bridge has only one pedestrian walkway.

Tandin Dendup, a heavy vehicle driver, expressed his appreciation, saying that the new bridge will make it easier for heavy vehicles to travel sideways. During dry seasons, the river volume is low and drivers can cross easily, but crossing the river during the monsoon is difficult, leading to delayed load trips compared to lighter vehicles, which can cross the old bailey bridge.

Aliash Gurung, a taxi driver, also mentioned the inconvenience of waiting for vehicles on the old bailey bridge. He is hopeful that the new bridge will solve this issue.

Rinzin Gyelmo, a regular commuter from Norbugang, is excited about the new bridge, which will reduce travel time and make commuting more convenient.