Nu 400M allocated for a bridge to be used for other prioritised projects 

Yangchen C Rinzin

Given the considerable expense it could incur, the government in the reprioritisation of the 12th Plan has decided to halt the much-talked-about Maokhola bridge project in Gelephu.

The tendering process for design and survey of the bridge was in full swing. The project should have begun from September at the latest and would have been completed by 2022.

The villagers of four gewogs—Chuzergang, Sershong, Tareythang, and Umling on the other side of the Maokhola will have to wait for a few more years before they can have a bridge, or until Covid-19 goes away.

Human Settlement Minister Dorji Tshering said that the construction of the bridge was put on hold due to Covid-19 and it was uncertain when works would resume. What is certain is that the budget allocated for the bridge would be re-prioritised.

For the bridge that is estimated to cost Nu 900 million, a budget outlay of Nu 400 million was allocated in the 12th Plan. The Nu 400 million will be now allocated for other activities prioritised in the pandemic situation.

  As per the survey, the span of the concrete bridge is expected to be about 800 metres. The survey has also looked into the construction of river protection walls.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the project was put on halt and was not cancelled.

Lyonchhen said that during the re-prioritisation of 12th Plan due to Covid-19, it was found that the construction of the bridge could entail massive human resource challenge and raw materials shortage from India.

“Implementation of the bridge was not something that can be implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic. So we decided to halt the project,” Lyonchhen said. “This activity is one among many that we have forgone in the reprioritisation process.”

Lyonchhen said that the construction of the bridge could come anyway but this not this time.

The bridge was one of the pledges of the government.

“Yes, the bridge was one of our pledges but the situation is different now. It’s difficult to use a huge budget for a bridge that is not required immediately when the budget could be used for other Covid-19 related works.”