Residents of Pasakha and the three villages of Samphelling gewog fear that they will be cut off from the rest of Phuentsholing with the recent partial collapse of the Bhalujhora bridge.
This added to the already bad road conditions.
The old bridge had already been in a bad condition and the recent heavy rainfall has dismantled one portion of the bridge. The continuous flow of heavy current from the river has eroded the base of the pillar weakening it.
The Department of Roads (DoR) has provided a temporary measure by installing an iron bailey bridge over the old bridge for light vehicle movement. Also, they have secured the cracked pillar which let the part of the bridge fall.
Rupa Mongar from Burkey said that the bridge would disconnect them, thus preventing her from attending work in summer. She currently works in one of the industries in Pasakha. “It has created fear among us. We are hoping for timely construction of a new bridge,” she said.
Also, cabbies are equally concerned about the bridge. They ferry passengers from Phuentsholing to Pasakha using the bridge. “If the bridge collapses, we will have to sacrifice our earning,” said Kinley Gyeltshen, a cabbie. He said that plying through the bridge with passengers has become risky.
All the projects have been contracted to private contractors for a period of 15 months from last year. The work on the Bhalujhora bridge started from January this year and multi-cellular box culvert from March this year.
Meanwhile, the Construction Development Corporation Limited is working on the bridge construction. The resources are mobilized and the works are well on track. The construction of three piers has already started and is on the safe level to work during monsoon.
The Project Manager, Sonam Tobgay said the work will complete on time.
The partial collapse of the bridge has mostly impacted the Industrial Estate of Pasakha where more than 200 heavy and light vehicles belonging to these industries ply the road daily. Currently, heavy vehicles are routed through the Bhalujhora river avoiding the bridge. Only light vehicles use the bridge. DoR stopped the traffic movement last week when the bridge collapsed. Industries in Pasakha are waiting for the completion of a new bridge. “Since the new bridge is coming up, we are waiting patiently. We have nothing to say currently. In fact, industries are suffering,” said General Secretary of Association of Bhutanese Industries Jochu Thinley.
Chief Engineer of DoR Dorji Wangdi said the department has deployed an excavator to clear the river for heavy vehicle movement across the river. He said the other budgets have been diverted to maintain the bridge and the river flow to avoid flooding. “The department is exploring every possible way to maintain the road and the bridge,” he said.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing