Yangyel Lhaden

The Department of Surface Transport inaugurated two newly-constructed bridges in Khasadrapchu and Begana with a load capacity of 70 metric tonnes (MT), yesterday. 

The bridges are among nine old Bailey bridges on the national highways to be replaced. These single-lane and low-carrying capacity bridges are being replaced with double-lane bridges with a maximum carrying capacity of 70MT, under the project named Construction and Replacement Bridges in the 12th Plan.  

The previous Khasadrapchu bridge, built in the 1980s, had a carrying capacity of 24MT, while the old Begana bridge, constructed in 1985, could handle a load of up to 20 MT.

The Khasadrapchu zam, 28 metres long, connects Bjemina Industrial Estate, Mewang gewog, and Tsheluney pilgrimage site with the highway, and Begana zam, 21 metres long, connects Begana to Naro and Kawang gewogs, Tango and Cheri monasteries, Tango Buddhist college, and Bhutan Power Corporation training centre. 

The two bridges have been operational since completion in November, last year. The Khasadrapchu bridge was built at a total cost of Nu 31.447 million, while the Begana bridge cost Nu 33.370 million. The nine bridges are constructed with funding support from the Government of India (GoI).  

Re-constructing six old bridges including the Dhamdhum bridge on the Samtse-Sipsu secondary national highway has been completed. The bridge was inaugurated in October, last year. 

The reconstruction of three other bridges – Diana Kuenphen bridge in Samtse, the Pangrizampa bridge in Thimphu, and the Marungri bridge in Pemagatshel – is underway.

Surface transport department Director General Tenzin said that Diana Kuenphen Bridge is expected to complete in November, earlier than the scheduled deadline. 

“For a landlocked country, roads and bridges are fundamental infrastructures required by all sectors in the country,” Tenzin said. “These bridges stand as a testament to the shared values of friendship, cooperation, and progress that bind our two nations together.”

Ambassador of India to Bhutan, Sudhakar Dalela said that India has been working with Bhutan to further strengthen this collaboration under successive five-year plans, and several flagship projects such as the construction of the East-West Highway which was completed.

In the 12th Plan, GoI funded 21 project-tied assistance projects with a total budget allocation of Nu 5.256 billion for the surface transport department. The projects are focused on improving roads and bridges.

“Of that, 17 projects are completed and others are at various stages of progress and nearing completion,” Tenzin said.

Some of the completed road improvement projects include Bajo-Khuruthang secondary national highway between Punakha and Wangdue, Sunkosh-Dagapela highway in Dagana dzongkhag, and the construction of Ossey bypass road under Sarpang dzongkhag.

“Going forward we are committed to expanding our partnership with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, including seeking new avenues of cross-border connectivity such as railways and waterways,” the ambassador said.