His Majesty The King Inaugurates The Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam Highway
Dorji Choden said that the Gyalpoizhing–Nganglam highway would have tremendous benefits to the people of six eastern dzongkhags
By Tashi Phuntsho | Kuensel
His Majesty the King inaugurated the 77km Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway yesterday at Nuchhi, a few kilometres away from Gyalpoizhing town.
The construction of the highway started initially in 2006 from both sides of Nganglam and Gyalpoizhing.
His Majesty also granted tokha and in the evening, he granted an audience to the participants of the four-day ‘Works and human settlement conference’ in Mongar.
The Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, cabinet ministers, the Opposition Leader, the National Assembly Speaker and other parliamentarians, the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan and other officials also attended the inauguration.
The Lyonchhen also awarded certificates to the project engineers, machine operators, contractors, labourers and gave semso soelra to the victims of four families.
Advantages of constructing the Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway
The works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden said that the Gyalpoizhing – Nganglam highway would have tremendous benefits to the people of six eastern dzongkhags, as the distance to Phuentsholing will be shortened by more than 220km from Mongar.
She said that the highway would connect the two dzongkhags of Mongar and Pemagatshel. “There are many remote villages like Dhagsa, Yangbari, Nikubi, along the highway which will also benefit.”
Lyonpo said that the highway would also help establish the 2,640MW Kuri-Gongri hydropower project and the Bondheyma Industrial Estate in Mongar.
While the highway construction took almost 12 years to complete due to a rocky cliff and machine breakdowns, the blacktopping of a few kilometres of the road will be completed by the end of this month.
Three companies – the Tshering Construction, Jabab Construction and Rirab Construction built 33km of the road until Gongrizomsa.
Challenges faced in the construction of the Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway
Jabab construction and Rirab Construction faced tremendous challenges in completing the works on time as almost 90 percent of their contract alignments passed through rocky stretches. In the process, Jabab Construction lost three people and six excavators.
Rirab construction managed to complete the formation cutting works after several extensions as the company failed to retain skilled workers due to the risky working condition.
Tshering Construction and Rinson Construction constructed 44km of the road up to Gongrizomsa. The Department of Roads (DoR) also carried out a part of the formation cutting.
The first cutting from the Gyalpoizhing side reached Gongrizomsa on 27 December 2016 and was completed by the end of March 2017. The final missing link, the Bailey bridge at Gongrizomsa was completed in 27 February this year.
The government of India funded over Nu 2.5 billion for the project through a project-tied assistance.
What the residents said
The residents of Gyalpoizhing are happy with the road inauguration. A DCM truck owner and driver, Rinchen Wangdi, 77 said that he travelled to Phuentsholing via Samdrupjongkhar, which almost took a week.
“It used to be costly to travel via Samdrupjongkhar,” he said. “It was worse during strikes.”
He said that people could now reach Phuentsholing in a day. “It takes only about eight hours.”
A businesswoman in Gyalpoizhing town, Pema Yangdon, 29, said that things would now become cheaper in the region.
A hotelier, Kezang Lhamo said that hoteliers and shopkeepers would reap the benefits from the highway because commuters would stop to eat.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Bhutan Times.