A team of about 100 men assembles parts to launch a bridge over Sukreti River in Samtse. The men comprise of engineers from the Department of Roads (DoR), Samtse dzongkhag officials, Dessups, and armed forces personnel. After the parts are fixed, they push the roller. The process is repeated.

This is how the 160-feet span double-double reinforced Bailey bridge is being launched over the Sukreti river. Bridge launching work started on June 11 and it will be completed on June 16.

DoR’s chief engineer based on Thimphu, Karma Wangdi, said this is an initiative to train the officials involved so that it helps in disaster preparedness.

“This is the third and the final round of training. The other two trainings were held last year in different places with different teams,” he said.

Karma Wangdi said the trained men are expected to be available for support during emergencies. “It would be easy during times of disasters, as the men would have already had hands-on experience in such tasks.”

The team works from 8am to 6pm.

Samtse dzongkhag allotted a budget of about Nu 15 million (M) for the project, which began in September 2017.

Although the bridge was supposed to complete in six months, DoR officials said they took time procuring bridge parts and other reinforcement works.

After the launching works are done by June 16, Karma Wangdi said that it would take another week’s time to complete walls after which the bridge would be ready for traffic.

“But the bridge would be pliable if there is an emergency,” he said. “We have to complete the launching by any means on June 16.”

Meanwhile, a Dessup officer Lhab Tshering, who has come from Thimphu De-Suung office, said despite the training being exhaustive, the experience, is pleasant.

“We are all working in such projects for the first time and there is much to learn,” he said. “Such training will help us contribute when we volunteer.”

Another Dessup, Gyem Lham, who is a lab assistant at Chukha Central School, said she has learned some technicalities of the bridge parts.

“I now know where to place the parts,” she said. “I think I will be handy in emergencies.”

Although it was heavy work, Gyem Lham said teamwork made it easy.

The Bailey bridge will benefit more than 500 households in the two gewogs of Samtse and Phuentshopelri (Gomtu) in Samtse.

Samtse gup Wangchuk Lepcha said the Sukreti farm road would get connected to Phuentshopelri gewog farm road, which means a road link to Phuentshopelri would be directly established from Samtse, through this bridge. Phuentshopelri farm road is connected from Halhaley (towards Dorokha) today.

“There are also civil servants staying across the river and the bridge would also help them,” the gup said. “When the river swells in summer, students are affected the most.”

Rajesh Rai | Samtse