Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
After heavy monsoon rains delayed it for several months, the Northern Bypass Road (NBR) Package I project is finally gaining momentum.
The project, which was scheduled to complete by end of August this year, includes construction of a 2kms four-lane road and subway near the old Omchhu bridge. It is one of the key components of the South Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) project in Phuentsholing thromde.
The infrastructure will be ready and open for traffic by December 20 this year, NBR project coordinator Devi Charan Dhimal said.
“The progress was not effective due to genuine hindrances and the monsoon,” he said, adding that the deadline was then extended by additional 111 days.
All the major portions of the project have been completed, the project coordinator said, explaining the contractor has been carrying out the activities at the underpass area at full swing.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has funded Nu 198.48 million (M) for this NBR-Package I as a grant.
A Japanese company, M/s Marushin Shitaka Construction Company Limited and local construction company M/s Rigsar Construction Private Limited is carrying out the work in a joint venture.
In a major achievement under this NBR project, Devi Charan Dhimal said they were able to get the land occupied by General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) near the second gate.
“The previous road corridor was narrow near the GREF area and we were able to coordinate cordially with GREF officials and got the road corridor for the required four lane road,” he said. The work has also been completed.
With this, the thromde is also eagerly waiting to start two ways entry-exit from second gate, Devi Charan Dhimal said, explaining constant follow ups are done. The traffic would ease once the second gate starts two way entry and exit.
Meanwhile, since the 2kms road under NBR-Package I would pass from Phuentsholing Higher Secondary School and heavy traffic expected, a noise barrier system would also be installed. It will absorb the noise and bar it from getting into the school.
NBR-Package I experienced several challenges after it commenced in September 2017. The construction of the subway was especially affected and delayed due to the sensitive underground fibre optic cables of Bhutan Telecom, electric utilities and thromde water supply and sewer lines. However, the works were carried out without disruption of these public facilities.
This year’s extreme monsoon has also affected the NBR-Package II project, which is upstream of the NBR-Package I over Omchhu. This project includes construction of about 600 metres road along with a 120-metre bridge over Omchhu. These infrastructures will connect the current Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway at the RBA area.
NBR-Package II is also under SASEC and ADB is funding about Nu 246M as grant. The JV partners working for the NBR-Package I are also doing this package.
The project, which was scheduled to be completed by February 2020, has been pushed to June 2020.
“It is due to the intense monsoon this year that caused unwarranted floods,” project coordinator Devi Charan Dhimal said.
He said that floods washed some completed portions of the 120-metre bridge’s staging works. About 54 percent of the works have been completed so far, the project coordinator said, adding that they are optimistic to complete the work by June 2020.
“The season is favourable and the work will be expedited to its full potential,” he said.
The two NBR packages, once complete will ease the traffic congestion in Phuentsholing. Heavy industrial trucks would not have to enter into the town and take the NBR route. The mini-dry port will also be used once the NBRs are completed further easing the traffic.