Connectivity: The mega project to improve the Pasakha bypass road in Phuentsholing will not meet its deadline since not even 10 percent of the Nu 294.144 million (M) project has been completed so far.

The project started in September 2015, which means about 14 months of the project’s duration has elapsed. The project’s deadline is August 2017.

This project to improve the bypass is the first South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) project in Pasakha. After more than five years of dialogue and agreements, the project materialised to decongest Phuentsholing in 2015.

A JV company was given a termination notice on October 14. However, the company is still active with the project.

The officiating director with the roads department in Thimphu, Lungten Jamtsho, said that the notice was given to the JV firm when it did not submit the expected target report of the assurance plan as discussed in a meeting in September this year. As the project had not seen progress, a meeting for an assurance plan was held following which the contracting firm was asked to submit a report with an assurance to complete 65 percent of the total work by December this year.

“However, they did not submit it as it was agreed in the assurance plan meeting,” Lungten Jamtsho said. It was then decided that a termination notice be given to the company.

The project implementation unit of the Department of Roads (DoR) in Phuentsholing confirmed that the contracting firm had submitted an assurance plan report of completing 24.75 percent by December.

Lungten Jamtsho said that the tender committee will monitor if 65 percent of the work is completed by then. “Then the next course of action will be decided.”

The project will restore a 1.1km stretch along the existing road at Allay, which was washed away by a flood in 2011. Along with this road improvement, a 120-metre bridge will be constructed at Bhalujhora where a damaged bailey bridge is located. A 50-metre reinforced cement concrete bridge will also be constructed at the landslide prone area in Baunijhora stream in Pasakha.

The 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 the road. Trucks travelling to the Pasakha industrial sites will not have to enter Jaigaon and Phuentsholing, which will ease traffic in these neighbouring towns.

Earlier, the bypass road on the Indian side was identified at Bulan Chaupati. However, it was changed to Bibarey as per the alignment plan last year.

Along with the LCS, Phuentsholing thromde will also connect a 2.71km northern bypass road from Bau bazaar in Jaigaon until the RBA area near the crocodile farm area. A bridge will also be constructed over the Omchhu and connect it to the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway.

Trucks and other heavy machines heading towards the capital and other parts of the country will ply via this route without having to enter the town.

The alternate route initially came into the plan when the 18km railway link between Pasakha and the Indian town of Hashimara was still being considered, which however, was expected to take longer than planned.

Bhutanese industrialists had then proposed a shorter road connection to Pasakha without having to enter Jaigaon and Phuentsholing.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing