Younten Tshedup 

The government is positive that a bridge over Maokhola in Gelephu would materialise this time.

Works and Human Settlement Minister Dorji Tshering said that with completion of two rounds of field survey the planning of the bridge has reached an advanced stage.

“We are on tract for the bridge over Maokhola,” he said.

Earlier this month a team from the bridge division of the Department of Roads (DoR) carried out a detailed survey on the location, span and other specifics of the bridge.

Kuensel learnt that the central-line of the bridge, which would be around 700 metres in length, would be located below Gelephu Thromde’s water treatment plant.

The exact location would be about 300 metres above the makeshift bridge recently constructed by the residents of Chuzergang gewog.

“People think the bridge is being build only for the four gewogs on the other side of Maokhola. That is not true,” Lyonpo said.

By the end of the 12th Plan, Lyonpo said that almost all parts of the country would be connected by road and, for this, bridges were an integral component.

He said that the government’s plan to construct the second east-west highway in the south required the Maokhola bridge. “For example, if some donor agencies wants to fund for the highway from Gelephu to Panbang, Maokhola currently stands as a bottleneck,” he said. “Therefore, the bridge is being build not only for the people of the four gewogs and Gelephu but for the whole southern belt.”

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government had concrete plans to build the bridge. “The bridge is required as it has huge implications on the other side of the river. Although the immediate beneficiaries from the bridge would the people of the four gewogs, we are not investing in the bridge just for the four gewogs.”

Lyonchhen said that Gelpehu town’s potential was restricted in the absence of a bridge over Maokhola.

“If there is a bridge, Gelephu Thromde is the only town with the potential to become a metropolitan city,” he said. “We need to look beyond the four gewogs. Once the bridge is completed, any Bhutanese can have business on the other side of the river.”

Lyonchhen added that the four gewogs—Chuzergang, Sershong, Tareythang and Umling on the other side of Moakhola—had remained in the rural corner of country in an urban setting.

“This is because there is no bridge connecting these gewogs to the rest of the dzongkhag,” he said. “We are building the bridge for the future potential that Gelephu throm holds.”

The government has set aside a budget of Nu 400 million in the 12th Plan for the Maokhola bridge.