Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Lack of skilled workers has delayed the construction  of infrastructure in the Phuentsholing Township and Development Project (PTDP) Zone-A Package-I at Amochhu.

The May 2021 deadline has come and gone, and as of now, over 70 percent of the work has been completed.  Most of the work seen there now was completed before March 2020.

The project, which is expected to bring in economic opportunities once completed, is progressing at a snail’s pace: just 1.7 percent (average) of progress per month. The project has seen only 34 percent progress since March 2020.

PTDP’s project manager from the implementing agency, Construction Development Corporation Limited (CDCL), Kamal Dhakal, said the main challenge is shortage of human resources. 

“The remaining work is labour intensive. We need skilled workers,” he said. “Most of the remaining work has to do with applying concrete and finishing. Bhutanese labourers have not been trained to work on these aspects.”

PTDP’s contractor, the AFCONS Infrastructure Limited, has about 100 skilled workers at present. However, it will need additional 300 skilled workers to complete the project on time.

CDCL has allowed a time extension until April 2022. The project started in November 2018. It was originally intended to be a 30-month project. 

“We will need skilled workers by December,” Kamal Dhakal said. “We have to utilise the favourable winter time.”

Should the required 300 labourers be available by December, CDCL officials said that the remaining 30 percent of work should be completed by mid-July. Otherwise, the construction will be further delayed.

PTDP’s Package-I (Zone A) is a Druk Holding and Investments (DHI)-owned project funded by DHI and Asian Development Bank (ADB). It has a total area of 162.88-acres development work. Under this package, there are five primary components: river training, backfilling, walkways (upper and lower), landscaping, and 12 cross drainage components.

The total funding for the project was USD 63 million (M). The ADB and the government have been funding the project at a 70-30 ratio. Of the total, 70 percent, which is USD 24.26M, is the ADB grant, while USD 28.74M is the loan component from ADB. The remaining USD 10M is the government equity injected by the DHI.

The ADB has also approved additional financing of USD 18.5M as a loan and USD 10M as a grant for the project.

In total, the PTDP Zone A now has an overall funding of USD 93M, with additional funding of USD 1.5M from DHI.

There are two packages under Zone A. The Package-II has yet to be awarded. Its construction was expected to commence from August this year.

“We have not been able to do the opening. It has been postponed three times. We are expecting to hold the tender opening this November,” Kamal Dhakal said.

Zone A Package-II is also planned as a 30-month project.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk