Samtse–P/ling highway to open to traffic mid-March

Come mid-March, commuters traveling from Phuentsholing to Samtse and vice versa need not have to fret about having to use the routes along the Indian highways anymore to reach these places.

The works on the Amochhu bridge, connecting Samtse and Phuentsholing, are nearing completion and the bridge will be open to traffic by mid-March this year, according to the Department of Roads (DOR).

The DOR, after completing rectification works, will complete civil works like decking, construction of approach road and footpaths and electrical lightings, which will take around two months.

“The work is almost complete and we hope to complete it by mid-March,” Chief Engineer from works and human settlement ministry, Karma Wangdi said.

The steel arch bridge, which was initially supposed to be complete by September 2009, is still under construction. Two previous joint venture construction companies have failed to meet the set deadline to complete the work.

Bhutan Builders and D.K. Engineering and Construction (a Siliguri based company) had jointly started the work from September, 2009 at Nu 245mn. Failing to complete the construction on time, which was September 2011, the contract was terminated. It was later Nepal’s Kalika Construction Private Limited and Gaseb Construction from Bhutan that jointly continued the work from 2012. However, they have also failed to meet the deadline to complete the work by 2013, resulting in contract termination.

M/S Santa Lall and Brothers, the third company, has worked on reinstallation of the K1 girder, the major component of the work at Nu 20mn. K1 girder is a horizontal main structural member (as in a building or bridge) that supports vertical loads and that consists of a single piece or more than one piece bound together. The girder was damaged by flood in 2015.

Meanwhile, the works on the Ammochu bridge are way behind schedule after having had failed to meet several deadlines.

Karma Wangdi said some technical failures have caused hindrance to the timely completion of the bridge and that DOR is working on its rectification.

“The works on the installation of lightings and footpaths along the bridge are left which will be done by the department. DOR is hopeful to complete the bridge by March this year,” he added.

Meanwhile, the 3D arch bridge after completion will be one of the longest bridges in the country. The bridge was initially estimated to cost Nu 245mn.

The Amochhu bridge after completion will connect the 58-km Samtse-Phuentsholing highway and is expected to mostly benefit the villagers of Tading gewog.

Tading Gup Jagath Bdr. Ghalley said the bridge once complete would help the people of the remote villages, especially in availing medical treatment during emergencies.

“Also, people can save time transporting heavy goods which is till now routed from Samtse through the Indian highways,” he added.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing