The ADB has committed USD 69M for all the SASEC projects in the country 

Update: Following more than five years of dialogues and agreements, the plan to decongest Phuentsholing’s traffic has begun to materialise.

Work to improve the Pasakha access road has been awarded. A bypass road from Bibarey near Manglabarey in Jaigaon will be connected to this road, which means trucks travelling to the Pasakha industrial sites do not have to enter Jaigaon and Phuentsholing towns.

Earlier, the bypass road on the Indian counterpart’s side was identified at Bulan Chaupati. However, it was changed recently to Bibarey as per the counterpart’s alignment.

The road is one of the projects under the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) in which the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is funding more than Nu 294 million. The project will restore the 1.1km road along the existing road at Allay, Pasakha that was washed away in a 2011 flood.

Officials with the department of roads (DoR) in Phuentsholing said the work would begin in September this year. The contract is awarded to Gaseb construction in a joint venture (JV) with SPML and Maccaferri.

Along with this road improvement, a 120-meter bridge will be constructed at Bhalujhora, where a damaged bailey bridge stands today but which does not allow heavy load trucks to pass through.

A 50 meter reinforced cement concrete (RCC) bridge will also be constructed at the landslides prone area in Baunijhora stream in Pasakha.

Roads officials said these works are scheduled to complete in 24 months.

The alternate route initially derived when the 18 km railway link between Pasakha and the Indian town of Hasimara was still being considered, is however expected to take longer than planned. Bhutanese industrialists had then proposed a shorter road connection to Pasakha without having to enter Jaigaon and Phuentsholing.

It was learnt that the Indian counterpart has already started their part of the work in Bibarey. Officials said the counterpart has been supportive.

Meanwhile, this improved road will also have a land customs station (LCS), which will connect the road to Bibarey. Phuentsholing thromde will implement this component of the project.

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

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

Yet another part of the component under the thromde is the mini-dry port along the northern bypass. The project was conceived more than a decade ago but did not materialise due to land issues. The issues, however, have now been resolved.

For the construction of the customs station at Allay, mini-dry port, and the northern bypass road, including a bridge, ADB has committed a grant of USD 7.25 M (civil works.)

Thromde’s project coordinator DC Dhimal said the consultant for detailed design, drawing, and procurement of works have been finalised.

“Work will start immediately,” he said, adding that the thromde had to follow due diligence based on the ADB procurement norms in recruiting consultant, which took some time. “Consultancy works will be completed in another 11 months.”

Gyeltshen consultancy in Thimphu in JV with SMEC International Private Limited (Australian company) has been given the consultancy work.

Meanwhile, ADB is also funding a 46-meter span RCC Girder Bridge recently commenced at Omchu River at the point where it connects with Torsa. Nepal-based Tundi Construction Private limited has been awarded the job.

ADB is funding 85 percent of the bridge’s total cost of Nu 90.95M while the government will fund the remaining 15 percent. Its construction will complete in 18 months.

Although it is not a SASEC project, it will still connect the northern bypass from Bau Bazaar and help ease traffic in the town.

All the projects under SASEC will be completed in five years. ADB has committed a total of USD 69M for all the SASEC projects in the country, which includes the road construction in Dewathang and Nganglam.

SASEC’s main objective is to facilitate trade and transport is one of the domains of cooperation.

Rajesh Rai