… if there are no lockdowns

Phurpa Lhamo 

With the roofs painted maroon red and walls glowing fresh white, Wandgue dzong will be consecrated to its former splendour soon.

Project officials said the progress came with so many hurdles.

When Wangdue detected its first Covid positive case on January 15, the dzong had to halt its work.

According to Wangdue dzong reconstruction project director, Kinley Wangchuk, works resumed after a month on February 16 after approval from the Wangdue, Punakha and Gasa Covid-19 task force.

He said workers and their families had to undergo two mass Covid-19 screenings.  Everyone tested negative and work resumed.

“Entries and exits have been sealed with few desuups and workers as guards.”

The project director said that as work resumed, procurement of materials remained a challenge. Materials were brought in bubble-mode.

He said that despite the challenges, the dzong will be completed before its completion deadline in December this year. “Almost 94 percent of the works have been completed.”

The project has around 230 workers at site

Kinley Wangchuk said that except for painting and entrance of the dzong, the structure works were completed. “For internal works, around 30 percent of furnishing works remain.”

Of 21 lhakhangs, eight still require furnishing works and also installation of altars.

Kinley Wangchuk said that painting works, flooring works in the monk’s residence, lhakhangs, and dzongkhag office have to be completed. “The courtyard, draining, sewerage, plumbing and fire hydrant works remain.”

He said that with the current progress, outer structure works would be completed before June.

Internal work is expected to take additional two months.

Kinley Wangchuk said that if there are no lockdowns or other hindrances, all works would be completed within this year and earlier than in December. “If there are lockdowns, there will be hindrances to procurement of raw materials. We would need materials for sewage, plumbing, water pipes, which will come from Phuentsholing.”

Of Nu 1 billion budget funded by the Indian government, the project has spent 906.89 million (M).

The project has around 230 workers at site.

Kinley Wangchuk said they still face challenges in shortage of workers. “We don’t have much issues in masonry but in carpentry, we still face a lot problem. But we have to manage with what we have.”