In December 2023, more than a dozen Bhutanese contractors, led by the President, Construction Association of Bhutan (CAB), visited the Australian cities of Perth and Sydney. While the visit was primarily a study tour to learn about workplace safety and the use of technology in construction, CAB’s President, Trashi Wangyel says that the team availed the opportunities to see firsthand business opportunities that Bhutanese contractors had and different means to employ technology in building the upcoming Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC).
“During the National Day Address on December 17, 2023, His Majesty pointed out very clearly that the GMC is an opportunity for the private sector. His Majesty also said that every Bhutanese should be involved in building the city,” CAB’s President said, adding that opportunities for the construction industry are immense. “From supplies to hiring of machines and getting engaged in infrastructure and connectivity projects, there is a lot of work to be done,” Wangyel underlined.
On questions if Bhutanese contractors are ready, Wangyel replied that if not, His Majesty would not say that there are opportunities for the Bhutanese private sector. “Additionally, His Majesty also spoke about the trust in the Bhutanese people and our ability to deliver. It includes stakeholders of the construction industry and when our King has so much trust and hope in us, we cannot imagine or even think about compromising in any kind of work we are associated with,” he said.
Wangyel further said that though the Australian’s pace of work is slow compared to what happens in Bhutan, quality assurance systems are in place. “Not even a single part of a building or structure escapes quality assurance. Further, technology is utilized wherever possible and apt.”
Speaking about the GMC, the President said Bhutanese contractors over the years have learned a lot. “Today, we can justifiably say that we are at par with regional contractors in terms of knowledge and experience, though all of us may not have capital like they do. Bhutanese contractors have carried out several projects on their own, especially in building roads, bridges and other infrastructure.” He further underlined that if some works at the GMC go to regional and international players, Bhutanese contractors can work as sub-contractors. “We and our labour force will learn new skills, which is very important.”
Reiterating that Bhutanese contractors are ready for projects with the GMC, Wangyel underscored that it is an opportunity for the Bhutanese construction company to further grow, learn and re-learn. “The GMC will be the spur that will provide us the platform to go and work beyond Bhutan,” he said.
While expansion of the Gelephu International Airport will begin very soon, other works at the GMC include connectivity and other infrastructure projects.
Dechen Choden from Thimphu