… skilled labour shortage has forced the department to  take up the work

Yangyel Lhaden

In an attempt to keep Samtse-Haa highway open to traffic at all times, about 15 engineers from the Department of Road’s (DoR) regional office are launching a 60-feet bailey bridge across Rangtse chhu. It is expected to be completed today.

The team moved to Rangtse the day after launching a steel footbridge in Begana, Thimphu on June 27.

DoR is mandated to keep Wangduephodrang-Sarpang, Trongsa-Gelephu, Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang and Mongar, Nganglam- Gyelposhing, and Samtse-Haa highways open to traffic at all times.

Without a bridge over Rangtse chhu and with the onset of monsoon, the road has been cut off.

DoR’s chief engineer, Chador Gyeltshen, said during the pandemic their responsibility was to maintain Haa-Samtse highway which was important if the situation in Phuentsholing worsens. It is expected to be used as an alternate route for the transport of essential goods.

Chador Gyeltshen said the engineers had to be deployed due to a lack of skilled labour.  “Engineers can launch a bridge within two days whereas contractors will take a week and the tendering process would take more than four months.”

He said if the work was awarded to a contractor it would cost between Nu 300,000 and Nu 500,000. “Engineers and drivers get a daily subsistence allowance which will amount to about Nu 70,000.”

Last year on May 16, DoR engineers launched another bridge at Langchu zam on the same highway.

Executive engineer with DoR western regional office, Karma Tshewang, said laying the bridge over the river also provided hands-on training to new engineers.

With proper coordination, experience and sound technical knowledge, he said, launching the bridge was not difficult. 

The DoR office also has plans to widen and maintain the road up to Phushana.

To keep the road open round the clock, road maintainence equipmemnent such as  payloaders and excavators are stationed along the Haa-Jyenkana-Phusana stretch on the Haa-Samtse highway.

Edited by Tshering Palden