80% of Wangdue Dzong restored

The Wangduephodrang Dzong restoration works are set to complete by June end 2022 although the initial deadline was set at December 2022.

Project Engineer of the Wangduephodrang Dzong Reconstruction Project, Dorji, said that project is well on track and 80% of the work on structure is completed.

So far the construction of administrative block in the first court, Kuenrey, Utse and Shabkhor in the third courtyard are completed.

Project engineer said that Dukhang and Shabkhor in the second courtyard is under construction and is expected to be completed by June 2021. The works on construction of service tunnel in the first courtyard and two storied lhakhangs above the Gosatho (Dzong Main Entrance) is yet to start. These works can be started only after the completion of the structures in second courtyard.

The project has employed around 280 workers currently in the project. There are eight Bhutanese traditional painters, 90 masons and 58 carpenters and 130 helpers. All of them are Bhutanese and mostly from Tsirang and Dagana but there are workers from other dzongkhags too. Most of the carpenters are from Wangdue.

Around 50 workers left in FY 2019-20 due to poor pay.

Project engineer said that government has increased the wage rates of the workers to retain them.

He said that project had some problem in retaining the workers due to the low payment in the past however, after the increase of their payment by the government in August 2020, “we are doing fairly good.”

“We also recruited additional workers to fill up the shortage and preference was given to those who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

More than 30 applicants applied and about 17 people who lost their previous jobs have turned up for work.

The wage rate for the workers starts from Nu 280 per day for helpers to Nu 583 per day for carpenter and Mason Grade I.  “We do have separate rates on hourly basis for overtime works,” he said.

The management has also recruited additional workers and currently do not have labor shortage.

He said that before the wage rate was increased, due to the low overtime rate, workers were very reluctant to work overtime and preferred working for other private firms especially during the holidays.

He mentioned, however, after the increase of the wage rate, both carpenters and masons do overtime to speed up the work progress.

He said the workers are willing to work two to three hours overtime as they are able to make some profit out of it because of the increased wage rates.

“As of November 2020, we have spent Nu 757.65mn,” he said.

The management brings timbers from the NRDCL depots in Bumthang and Zhemgang and boulders from Burichu under Tsirang.

He said statues including Debris (mural wall paintings) in Kuenrey and serthri Lhakhang are installed and is fully functional. About 70% of the work like procurement, casting, making of statues, painting of Debris and Nangtens for other Lhakhangs are completed and rest are in progress.

As of now they allow volunteers and tokha only from within the Dzong.

Dechen Dolker from Wangduephodrang