Gol building to be dismantled
The Gol (round) building constructed sometime in the 50s stands as Phuentsholing’s landmark. Little children studying in India used to be hysterical when they see a glimpse of the building while returning for vacation because then they know they were home.
Gol building was constructed in 1968 as a three- storied building. It was vertically extended to the existing height later. Initially, it had 65 residential and 20 commercial units but today it houses 53 tenants and the building does not have scientific or seismic elements incorporated in its design.
Moreover, water is already seeping into its walls and cracks have developed. Also plants have started growing on it.
Previously in 2012 ,the National Housing Development Corporation Limited (NHDCL) was in the process of assessing the building but a visit by its engineers reportedly revealed that the building seems to be standing strong but not for long now.
Earlier, the building was under the care of the Phuentsholing Dungkhag, however, the building was handed over to the NHDCL in 2012.
Some were government-owned quarters but most were private individuals. .
An official at NHDCL said that to design structures to make them earthquake-resistant was a costly affair.
One example he cited was the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) building in Thimphu, which after assessment was to be seismically designed; however, the costs exceeded 80 percent of the original amount allotted.
Therefore the plan was dismissed and UNDP is said to be going in for a new construction for its office.
He added that in Thimphu alone, there were about 300 buildings that were not seismically protected and safe.
The Gol building will soon be a memory. It will be dismantled.
Under the initiative of the NHDCL, by the end of this year the demolition work of the building will be completed.
NHDCL’s managing director (MD), Thinley Dorji said, “It do not hold the seismic codes in Bhutan and it do not meet the criteria for the prevailing safety requirements.”
The newly constructed buildings near Education Central Store will be allocated to the tenants who will be relocated from Gol building.
There are six buildings ready for allotment and this statement is confirmed by the NHDCL.
The construction of these six buildings started before the affordable housing project commenced.
As per the prevailing allotment rules and regulations, for those 20 commercial tenants, the management would serve the vacation notice.
The rent ranges up to Nu.3, 520 and the tenants are mostly government employees and private corporate employees.
A tenant Yeshi Samdrup, 48 from Punakha residing at Gol building said, “I have live here for almost 8 years now. My children’s has grown bigger playing here, so it’s little emotional for us to know that the building will be soon demolished.”
He added that although it’s disheartening to hear about demolishing but it’s also better for the tenants to vacate as soon as possible as the condition of the building is not so well. “So it’s better to vacate before some disastrous thing happens.”
In April 2015, when tremors were felt in Bhutan following the Nepal earthquake, many Gol building residents stayed outside in the open throughout the nights.
The management of Gol building has changed several times from Dungkhag administration to customs and NHDCL. NHDCL took it over from the Dungkhag in 2012. The building generates Nu.1.91M from residential rents a year and Nu.6.33M from commercial units.
NHDCL has already planned and prepared a conceptual design for the new building in the same area.
Thinley Dorji said the demolition work would be tendered out and the work shall be awarded to the competent firm.
NHDCL office has also stated that the form, profile and plinth area are not yet finalised and the planning and design are still in a conceptual stage.
Meanwhile, the actual cost of the new building has also not been estimated. However, the indicative cost worked out based on the conceptual design is Nu.140M.
The Gol building will soon be a memory. It will be dismantled