Developing infrastructure is one thing and ensuring sustainable maintenance of the existing infrastructure is another critical consideration, according to officials attending the 9th works and human settlement ministry conference in Mongar.

The four-day conference themed “Strategies to Maintain Infrastructure” concluded yesterday after adopting about 20 resolutions.

Officials also said that the government has made significant progress in providing the necessary infrastructure in remote parts of the country as well as urban centres.

As Bhutan continues to expand its infrastructure, it is time to professionalise the asset management practices.

Officials say every asset has a designed life and without maintenance, this lifespan will be shortened.

They say it is absurd to wait until the asset breaks down completely or are so badly deteriorated that it has to be discarded or replaced.

The asset set must first be designed on sustainability principles and maintained to its design lifespan, revitalised and recycled with appropriate renewal processes that contribute to minimal cost and interruption to service delivery.

Chief planning officer with the ministry, Dorji Wangmo, said that in the 12th Plan, the ministry’s focus would be on maintaining the infrastructure.

She said that the ministry would focus largely on consolidation, maintenance and ensure sustainability of the created assets in the 12th Plan.

She said the theme of the conference, “Strategies to Maintain Infrastructure” has been carefully chosen to provide collective wisdom on best technology options, addressing the challenges of ensuring quality construction, maintenance and upkeep of the existing infrastructure to the desired level of standards and serviceable.

The inputs received from the conference will guide the implementation of infrastructure planning and development in the 12th Plan, as well as inputs to the policies and legal instrument the ministry is currently working on.

The conference deliberated on sustainable planning and development of infrastructure, asset management practices and challenges and sustainable construction technologies.

In sustainable planning and development of infrastructure, the conference discussed an overview of draft national construction industry policy, integrated approach to settlement development planning and the role of construction development board in the construction industry.

A total of 137 participants including the minister, secretary, director, dzongkhags engineers, urban engineers, planners, architects and regional chief engineers attended the conference.

The ministry also launched documents on engineering tools on Building Regulations, Land Pooling Regulations, Tenancy Rule and Regulations, and Construction Manager Software.

Tashi Phuntsho | Mongar