Three SASEC Road Connectivity Projects in full swing

Three South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC)’s projects in Phuentsholing which started last year are in full swing. About 15% of the works are complete as of now and while the remaining works are in progress.

The construction of the northern bypass road, the first component of the package starts from the second Bhutan gate till the crocodile farm. The work includes 2km four-way lane which is under construction. The project is a grant project Nu 198mn funded by Asian Development Bank under SASEC Road Connectivity Project. The works started from September last year. An underpass bridge is also constructed near Road Safety Transport Authority office.

Another package starts from the crocodile farm to the first bend near the Royal Bhutan Army base camp connecting Phuentsholing-Thimphu National Highway. The construction of a 120m curvilinear bridge also started this year.

The second component, the mini dry port (MDP) is 60% complete. The mini dry port, spread over 5.5 acres of land under Phuentsholing thromde will house two storied administrative buildings including warehouses for storing different products. Inroads, weighbridge and truck scanner facilities will also be placed including two security gates. Altogether, the dry port will house 17 facilities including public toilets and security quarters.

While M/S Marushin Shitaka, a Japan based Construction Company is working on MDP, Rigsar Construction Company and M/S Marushin Shitaka are working on the Northern Bypass Road, a joint venture project. SASEC’s Project Coordinator under Road connectivity Project Devi Charan Dhimal said that the works are ongoing and a milestone will be achieved. MDP is also a grant provided by ADB worth Nu 135mn.

The project started in April and will complete by December this year. After completion of the project, the entire customs clearance processes which are currently facilitated in the Regional Revenue and Customs office will be diverted there. And also the functioning of MDP will decongest the Thromde. Other facilities like the offices of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, forestry office and banks will also be installed in MDP, according to Devi Charan Dhimal.

However, the construction of Land Customs Station at Ahaley in Pasakha is yet to start due to non-availability of land. The Thromde is waiting for reclaimed land from Phuentsholing’s Department of Roads (DOR). DOR is still under reclamation process. DOR has awarded the work to a private construction company. Once complete, the reclaimed land has to be returned to Thromde for detailed designing of LCS. The LCS construction project is also funded by ADB worth Nu 22.4mn.

The entire project is scheduled to complete by the end of 2019. Once complete, all the heavy vehicles will not have to enter the core town and they can detour through the same second gate. The completion will also improve the efficiency and dovetail the tax collection processes.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing