With the groundbreaking ceremony for a mini dry port conducted yesterday in Phuentsholing, Bhutan is expected to have its first mini dry port in 20 months time.

The port, which will house more than 45 trucks and have customs clearance for imports and exports, comes after 15 years of dialogues and land disputes.

The dry port is one of the three South Asia Sub-region Economic Cooperation (SASEC) projects with the Phuentsholing Thromde (PT). It will cost Nu 134.85 million (M).

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is funding 81 percent of the total budget as grant and the government will fund the rest.

Economic affairs minister, Lekey Dorji, along with ADB’s country director, Phuentsholing thromde officials, and representatives from various agencies attended the function yesterday.

Lyonpo Lekey Dorji said the need to develop the port has become imperative with increasing trade each year.

“We have recorded a growth of 600 percent in trade,” he said. “But on the other hand, we did not have commensurate improvement in the logistics to support this growing trade value.”

He said Bhutan ranked 135 out of 160 countries in the World Bank global logistics performance indicators. “The government is giving highest priority in building such infrastructure in the country.”

Lyonpo Lekey Dorji also said that the port would contribute significantly to the overall economy of the country.

Meanwhile, the construction of the 5.4 acres of the mini dry port has been tendered out to a Japanese construction company, Marushin Shitake Construction Company limited, which had started clearing and mobilisation work.

The dry port is awarded as a ‘design and build’ concept, meaning the contractor would design the port. Designs would be submitted phase-wise and the construction would be approved and implemented every time designs are approved.

Department of Trade’s Director General, Sonam Tenzin, said the dry port is significant to the business community in the country, especially, in terms of cross-border trade.

“It is expected to reduce the cost of transactions significantly,” he said, explaining its key services would be to function as a warehouse, transshipment of cargos, and cold storage. “It will add value to exports.”

Meanwhile, the dry port, which will have a truck scanner and weigh bridge, will be connected via the second gate from the Baubazaar area in Jaigaon. A northern bypass road will also be constructed through the port.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing