Infrastructure: The groundbreaking ceremony for the reconstruction of the Chuzomsa, Nikachhu and Zalamchhu bridges on the Wangdue-Trongsa highway yesterday marked yet another milestone to celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Japan.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) chief representative, Koji Yamada and works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden attended the Salang Tendrel.

The three bridges will be constructed with a grant of more than Nu 1.2 billion (B) or Yen 1.95B from the Government of Japan. Dai Nippon Construction Company will take up the bridge construction work, and Oriental Consultant Global will be the supervision consultant for the project.

Koji Yamada said the reconstruction of the three bridges is a good opportunity to celebrate the special year. The reconstruction work will be completed by the end of the 11th plan, which means the Japanese contribution will contribute to the achievement of the current five-year Plan, he said.

The JICA chief representative said a single project cannot solve a problem, therefore, synergy is constantly being sought between different projects. For instance, he pointed out that JICA recently signed a technical cooperation agreement for capacity development on bridge construction and maintenance with the Department of Roads.

The project’s duration is three years which will also cover maintenance and repairs if needed, so bridge life is lengthened, he said.

“We are also working on the road slope management and protection,” said the chief representative. “There are lots of overhanging cliffs and many hazardous places. We are not able to avoid that kind of situation but important thing is how to detect the hazard as soon as possible and get that information and respond quickly as possible.”

Lyonpo Dorji Choden extended gratitude to Japan for the support and expressed hope for more such projects.

Cooperation between the two countries in the area of bridge construction started in 1997.

Lyonpo said in addition to the assistance for reconstruction of the 14 bridges in total, JICA has also provided technical assistance to the bridge division. The expertise of various Japanese experts has been involved in enhancing the knowledge of local engineers.

JICA has also provided Japanese experts to build the capacity of the Department of Agriculture for survey and design of farm road bridges. Under the technical cooperation project, she said JICA has funded construction of two model farm road bridges in Wangdue and Tsirang.

Of 22 bridges studied, 12 were identified as requiring replacement. Out of those critical 12 bridges, five bridges were given priority and included for reconstruction in the first phase.

Construction works on five bridges took off in October 2001 and was completed by September 2003. The five bridges were Kuri zam in Mongar, Chamkhar zam in Bumthang, Bjee zam in Trongsa, Mangde zam in Zhemgang and Wachey zam in Wangdue.

She said the Royal Government requested Japan’s assistance to replace the existing bailey suspension bridges that were deteriorating and creating bottlenecks for traffic on highways.

Following which under the second phase, three existing bailey suspension bridges; the 86m Wakleytar bridge on the Wangdue-Tsirang highway, 70m Tangmachhu bridge on the Mongar-Lhuentse highway and 95m Sunkosh bridge on the Sunkosh-Dagana highway were reconstructed as more permanent arch bridges, Lyonpo said.

She said six bridges on the Wangdue-Sarpang highway were reconstructed with Government of Japan grant aid of USD 24M. Three of the six bridges were completed and inaugurated in 2011 and two bridges in July 2012. The last of the six bridges, Loring zam was inaugurated in January 2013. Under phase-three of the project, the Royal Government as part of its commitment reconstructed five short span-bridges.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue