Industries in Pasakha come to a standstill after heavy rain

Industries in Pasakha come to a standstill after heavy rain

More than hundreds of heavy and light vehicles were stranded at both sides of the Bhaunijhora Bridge for days

The industries in the country’s biggest industrial estate of Pasakha were affected by the heavy downpour in the southern parts of the country last week.

While the swollen rivers affected some industries, the road block at Bhaunijhora, about a kilometer away from Pasakha towards Phuentsholing, became a major setback for the industries since June 24.

The mudslide caused by the heavy rain had filled the newly constructed multi-cellular culvert bridge blocking the movement of vehicles and people. Over hundreds of heavy and light vehicles have been stranded at both sides of the bridge for days.

This has resulted in making impossible the movement of incoming raw materials and finished products for export, according to the industrialists. The industries have to meet the delivery deadlines for the finished goods, failing which will result in penalties.

Currently, most of the raw materials for the industries are stranded in Jaigaon and Dalsingpara in India due to the blockade. They are expected to reach the plants once the road is cleared for traffic. Till now, industries have been using raw materials from their buffer stocks. It is not sure for how long the stocks will last.

Meanwhile, some industries have started using raw materials on loan to repay when their raw materials arrive.

Ugyen Ferro Alloys Private Limited started using loaned raw materials from Thursday. But it’s uncertain for how long they can sustain. Also, the quantity, unlike other times, has decreased by half, according to Deputy General Manager, Chandra Samal.

“Our materials are stranded on the way. We cannot stop the plant, it will bring an impact to Bhutan Power Corporation and the country,” he said.

The industrialists fear that if the monsoon havoc continues, then there is a risk of resulting in power outrage. If it happens, then the only option for them is to use fuel engines like generators to run the plant. There is a single fuel outlet nearby where they get the fuel from. If the depot runs out of fuel stock, industrialists fear that they have to shut down the plants.

The Singye River which runs beside the industrial estate is another threat to the plants. If the rain continues, the river could wash away the retaining walls along the bank.

The industries have however diverted the river temporarily minimizing the risk. “If the river floods one industry, then it will affect the rest as it’s located together,” another industrialist said.

Also, heavy vehicles which used to ply across the Bhalujhora River have stopped as it is swollen. The Department of Road has opened a newly constructed bridge across the river to decongest traffic flow. The industrialists want the bridge to remain open to transport their goods. 

Industrialists say that the blockade has also made it impossible for some of their employees to get to work at the plants.

 “It was risky for them to travel through risky area,” an official from one of the industries said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Roads and the Association of Bhutanese Industries (ABI) have deployed hired excavators and pay-loaders to clear the blockade till yesterday. Four excavators and a pay-loader were deployed to clear the block. The road was temporarily opened on Thursday evening which was again blocked yesterday. They are still dredging the mud which blocked the culvert bridge.

It is expected to take almost a week to complete the work, according to DOR’s Chief Engineer, Dorji Wangdi. “We are working to clear as fast as possible. So far the slide has brought heavy damagse to the bridge.” 

Dorji Wangdi said the Bhalujhora Bridge was closed to complete the finishing works by the contractor. The bridge will be formally opened by next month. 

There are around 36 registered industries at the Pasakha Industrial Estate.

pic courtesy: Facebook

Krishna Ghalley from Pasakha, P/ling