Except for the incomplete works on the much-delayed Amochhu bridge, the roads connecting to Samtse from Phuentsholing and vice versa is almost complete and pliable for motor vehicles.
The incomplete works on the Amochhu bridge is the only constriction presently for the opening of the Samtse-Phuentsholing highway. People have already started using the road from Samtse till the Amochhu bridge point, and from Phuentsholing till the bridge point.
The Project Manager from Department of Roads (DoR) under the works and human settlement ministry, Jigme Chhogyal, said traffic from both sides is open till the bridge and the local people start using the road.
The locals use the road to travel and transport essential commodities and construction materials. It is mostly Mahindra Boleros that ply on the road.
Jigme Chhogyal, whose site starts from Halhaley (a junction dividing the road to Dorokha and Phuentsholing from Samtse till Amochhu) said the highway will be open once the bridge is complete.
Meanwhile, the whole stretch of 58-km road has been blacktopped starting from Samtse till Amochhu. The remaining road from Amochhu is, however, yet to be maintained. The road from Phuentsholing till Amochhu bridge is also planned for development simultaneously by Phuentsholing Thromde and the Amochhu Land Development and Township Project (ALDTP).
The bridge once complete will be the longest bridge in the country measuring 175m. The bridge was initially scheduled for completion by September 2011 with a budget of Nu 175mn. The budget later increased to Nu 225mn.
The works on blacktopping and construction of embankment walls at four-kilometer stretch at Samtse are also expected to start soon, according to another DoR official, Nidup. “We have tendered the work and are left with the signing agreement,” the official added.
Meanwhile, it took more than three years to complete the 25-km road from Amochhu to Halhaley and people from more than three gewogs are using the road. Even traffic police monitor the traffic movement frequently along the highway, while people still use suspension bridge over the Amochhu to get across the river.
A Project Manager of the bridge works, Tshering Wangchuk, said DoR will complete the remaining works of laying the concrete deck and railing.
“The bridge is expected to be complete by March,” he said.
Once complete, the Samtse-Phuenstholing highway is expected to shorten the present travelling time from Samtse to Phuentsholing and vice-versa by 30 minutes. It is also expected to be safer than having to journey through the Indian highways. It takes two hours from Samtse to reach Phuentsholing today.
Tading Gup Jagath Bdr. Ghalley said the bridge, if complete, would help the people of the remote villages especially for medical treatment during emergencies. “Also, people can save transporting heavy goods which is till now routed from Samtse through the Indian highways,” he said.
A local resident, Ganesh said it would also be safer for the travelers once the bridge is complete.
“People with heavy consignments from Phuentsholing have to either route through Samtse to reach Tading or have to be carried from the bridge point in absence of the bridge,” he added.
Meanwhile, the construction of the Samtse-Phuentsholing highway started in 2006.
Krishna Ghalley from Samtse