… following termination of a construction firm 

Construction: The Nu 294.14 million (M)  South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) project to improve the Pasakha bypass road in Phuentsholing will miss its deadline. The contracting firm, M/s Gaseb Construction, was recently terminated for failing to complete targeted works.

The project started in September 2015 and the deadline for completion was August 2017. The contract was awarded to M/s Gaseb Construction which was in a joint venture (JV) with SPML and Maccaferri.

The project is one of the component projects under SASEC in which the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the funding agency. The Department of Roads (DoR) Phuentsholing regional office monitors and implements the project.

DoR had also given a termination notice to the contracting firm in October last year. The firm was expected to complete a certain portion of the job by December and report to the department, which did not happen resulting in the termination.

DoR chief engineer Dorji Wangdi said that about 15 percent of the project is completed. “The contractor has stopped the work,” he said, adding that the department is currently assessing the work at the site.

With the project’s progress suspended, the aim to decongest Phuentsholing town traffic has also come to a temporary halt. The first SASEC project in Pasakha that materialised in 2015 after more than five years of dialogue and agreements was expected to ease Phuentsholing’s traffic problems. Industrialists and Pasakha residents will also have to face problems in the summer of not having the Bhalujhora bridge ready by then.

The project will restore 1.1km along the existing road at Allay, Pasakha that was washed away by a flood in 2011. Along with this road improvement, a 120m bridge will be constructed at Bhalujhora, where a damaged bailey bridge is located at present. Heavily-loaded trucks are not allowed to use the bridge.

A 50m reinforced cement concrete bridge will also be constructed at the landslide prone area near the Baunijhora stream in Pasakha.

This improved road will also have a land customs station (LCS), which will connect the road to Bibarey near Manglabari, Jaigaon, India. Phuentsholing Thromde will implement this component.

A bypass road from Bibarey will connect to this road. Trucks travelling to the Pasakha industrial sites will not have to enter Jaigaon and Phuentsholing, which will ease traffic congestion in the neighbouring towns.

Indian counterparts have already started their part of the work in Bibarey. Construction of a road that will connect to the bypass is ongoing.

As the Bhalujhora bridge is restricted to heavy trucks, industrial companies will face problems in the summer. The bridge was also damaged by last year’s monsoon.

DoR chief engineer Dorji Wangdi said that they will have to repackage and tender the contract again. “But we will have to get approval from ADB in order to make the next contract package,” he said, explaining it is mandatory to get ADB approval.

Termination of the contractor was approved by the ADB, Dorji Wangdi said.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing