The old bridge over Bhalujhora River in Pasakha, which was left partially damaged in summer of 2016, has become a cause of concern for the people.

Heavy vehicles to cannot ply through the bridge due to its vulnerable status. The carrying capacity has decreased.

Currently, industrial trucks cross the river near the bridge to reach to the estate. When it rains, trucks cannot ply on it.

Representing the industries’ concern, the Association of Bhutanese Industries (ABI) has been trying to reach to the department of roads (DoR), Phuentsholing thromde, and department of industries (DoI).

ABI’s programme officer, Pema Yangchen, said that the association has submitted letters expressing the impact of not having a strong bridge over Bhalujhora River. “We are following up,” the programme officer said.

In 2016, heavy and continued rain affected many industrial trucks. Transporting raw materials and finished products became a huge challenge. Some industries had to be closed for days.

Problems related to shortage of fuel in Pasakha were also reported. Employees of the industrial estate also faced difficult time day and night having to walk about five kilometres. Even small cars were not allowed to cross the bridge for safety reasons.

ABI in its letter to DoR has mentioned that the incessant rain last year had caused damage to industries and thousands of workers and that the condition of the bridge has worsened.

Taxi drivers who operate between Phuentsholing and Pasakha are also concerned with condition of the dridge.

A cabbie, Chenga, said that if it rains like last year, the bridge would not last. “The bridge condition is bad and it will be washed away,” he said. He added that without the bridge, small vehicles would not be able to cross the river.

Another taxi driver, Sangay Wangdi, said that agencies are not taking care of the bridge and the roads.

Construction of a new bridge close to the existing bridge was also ongoing. It was a SASEC project. However, DoR terminated the contractor after he failed to complete the targeted portions of works in time.

DoR said that it is concerned about the coming monsoon. The only option, the officials said, was to station required machinery so that debris could be cleared on a daily basis.

Bhalujhora Bridge was constructed in 1986.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing