Neten Dorji

Travellers on the Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam Highway will soon have reason to rejoice as a sturdy new bailey bridge is set to span the Kuri-Gongri confluence, reconnecting Gyalpoizhing to Nganglam across the Drangmechu.

In a meet-the-press session, the Minister of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (MoIT), Dorji Tshering, said that the ministry is committed to completing the construction of the bailey bridge within two months, offering a lifeline for those who depend on this vital transport link.

The new bridge will have a robust carrying capacity of 50 metric tonnes (MT), ensuring its durability and reliability.

The urgency for this new bridge stems from the tragic incidents where the previous bailey bridge collapsed not once but twice within a span of two months, resulting in the loss of two lives.

The minister explained that a thorough investigation was carried out on both occasions, but the exact cause of the bridge’s collapse could not be pinpointed. The raging river had swept away critical bridge components and trucks, leaving the mystery unsolved.

Nevertheless, experts have concluded that a combination of factors, including load capacity and the quality of bridge parts, played a role in the unfortunate incidents.

With this hard-earned lesson in mind, the ministry is committed to ensuring the safety and reliability of bailey bridge constructions in the future. Minister Tshering emphasised that the loading capacity of trucks continues to increase, while bridge carrying capacities remain fixed for decades. In light of this, future bridges will be constructed with a minimum carrying capacity of 50 MT.

For a more permanent solution, MoIT has already identified a location for the construction of a durable cement bridge. This endeavour is part of the Sherichu-Kuri-Gongri road development project and is expected to take approximately two years to complete. It promises to provide a lasting and resilient transport infrastructure.

Among the many bridges scattered across the country, around 300 bridges, like the one at the Kuri-Gongri confluence, require an increase in their carrying capacity to meet the demands of modern transportation.

The Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam Highway, which has been closed to traffic since June 27 due to the repeated collapses of the reconstructed bailey bridge over Drangmechu, will soon see a new era of safe and efficient travel.

In the interim, the ministry is taking steps to address road maintenance issues in Thimphu, working to fill potholes and improve road conditions. The minister assured the public that the ministry would launch a second phase to address potholes, extending the lifespan of road surfaces for a more comfortable and reliable driving experience.

 The commitment to infrastructure development and road safety remains at the forefront of MoIT’s agenda, ensuring that Bhutan’s transportation network meets the evolving needs of its citizens.