For efficient transportation, the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) will prioritise enhancing load carrying capacity on national highways, industrial road and bridges from 18 metric tonnes to 30 or 50 metric tonnes in this fiscal year.
This was one of the targets highlighted by the ministry in its annual performance agreement (APA). About two weeks after the ministry’s compact was reviewed, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering signed the APA with the ministry on August 21.
A tripartite signing of the APA between the Prime Minister, MoWHS minister and the secretary of the ministry was followed by four other signings for different departments and their respective heads.
Works and human settlement Minister Dorji Tshering said that although the emphasis was given on improving accessibility through development of road networks and infrastructure until the 11th plan, the ministry in the current plan would focus on consolidating and improving existing infrastructure.
Lyonpo said that besides the regular work of improving the existing road networks through blacktopping and resurfacing, the Department of Roads (DoR) would now work on enhancing carrying capacity through construction of rigid pavement, particularly at the industrial sites and also with construction and replacement of old bridges.
“Eleven bridges will be constructed and the design for three more will be ready,” he said.
Given climatic conditions and susceptibility to climate change, Lyonpo said that developing climate-resilient structures was important. DoR has pledged to initiate activities for developing a guideline for design and construction of climate-resilient roads.
A research on slope stabilisation and protection, rigid pavement and use of plastic mixtures for blacktopping were some of the innovative actions included under the target.
Of the total budget outlay of Nu 2,555.623 million (M), the ministry has allocated Nu 1,741.04M for its first target – to improve and maintain the resilience of road network; Nu 782.42M to pursue green growth in the construction industry; and Nu 24.150M was allocated to enhance the sustainability of human settlement.
The ministry appropriated Nu 7.8M for secretariat services.
At a ministerial level, the ministry has identified a total of four objectives linked with 18 success indicators and one flagship programme.
To pursue green growth in the construction industry, Lyonpo said that the department of engineering services (DES) would initiate activities to professionalise the construction sector.
He said that because Bhutan was located on the vulnerable seismic zone, there was an acute need to assess the vulnerability of our traditional buildings, not only to seismic vulnerability but also to other natural calamities like storms.
“Therefore, research will be carried out to test the vulnerability of our structures and, subsequently develop standards and guidelines for our buildings,” said Lyonpo.
The DES will implement the Water Flagship Programme to ensure availability of adequate water for drinking and irrigation by collaborating with dzongkhags, thromdes and local governments.
To implement the flagship programme, the ministry has allocated a budget of Nu 13.50M.
However, an official with DES said that the department had not signed the APA because the Water Flagship Programme was being prepared.
To facilitate and assist in the preparation of strategic human settlement plans, the Department of Human Settlement (DHS) will prepare spatial plans for identified dzongkhags, including Lhuentse and other areas like Sonamthang in Zhemgang.
Lyonchhen said that from next year, the budget would be appropriated only after a detailed review of the APA is carried out and the prioritised activities of the agency and ministry identified.