Om­chhu bridge in dan­ger of col­laps­ing

The bridge is a vi­tal con­nect­ing link for both pedes­tri­ans and ve­hi­cles in Phuentshol­ing

Business Bhutan - - Front Page - Kr­ishna Ghal­ley from Phuentshol­ing

The Om­chhu bridge in Phuentshol­ing con­nects im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tions and busi­ness en­ti­ties and half of Phuentshol­ing’s pop­u­la­tion re­sides across the bridge which makes the bridge a vi­tal con­nect­ing link.

The bridge which was com­pleted in 2003 most im­por­tantly con­nects with the Gen­eral Hospi­tal and pub­lic trans­port of­fice, and Road Safety and Trans­port Author­ity (RSTA). Also, a veg­etable mar­ket is lo­cated across the river.

How­ever, the bridge is in dan­ger of col­laps­ing as hun­dreds of heavy and light ve­hi­cles ply through the road daily to get across. More than 50 heavy trucks ply through the bridge daily. While the car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of the bridge is just 40MT, the Truck­ers Com­mit­tee has con­firmed that the gross weight of a sin­gle loaded truck of 18 wheel­ers crosses 40MT. A truck alone weighs more than 13T and can carry up to 37MT at once.

The bridge af­ter its in­au­gu­ra­tion has helped peo­ple to get across both the sides in the com­mer­cial hub of the coun­try. “The bridge has been very im­por­tant for ev­ery­one from the com­mon man to the elite. With­out it, the en­tire peo­ple on the left bank of the river will suf­fer es­pe­cially dur­ing mon­soon,” said San­gay Wangchuk, a Phuentshol­ing res­i­dent. The bridge is also used to trans­port man­darin dur­ing win­ter from Amochhu de­pots.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the bridge is used for trans­port­ing boul­ders from Amochhu bridge to Bangladesh.

How­ever, since the bridge is stretched to its ca­pac­ity these days, the con­cerned author­i­ties have re­stricted the move­ment of heavy ve­hi­cles es­pe­cially trucks car­ry­ing boul­der start­ing this month.

With­out an al­ter­na­tive route, the bridge is the only life­line for both trans­porters and pedes­tri­ans. Reper­cus­sions will be huge if some­thing hap­pens to the bridge, said an RSTA of­fi­cial. “There will be the is­sue of ac­count­abil­ity.”

Now, RSTA plans to pe­nal­ize the em­ploy­ers in­stead of trans­porters for any mishap in the town.

Shar­ing the con­cern about the bridge, Truck­ers Com­mit­tee Mem­bers of Bhutan has pro­posed for an al­ter­na­tive route across the Om­chhu river to the author­i­ties but they have not re­ceived a re­sponse so far.

The com­mit­tee has pro­posed for a cul­vert over the river for the heavy trucks to ply to avoid any mishap to the bridge and traf­fic con­ges­tion. “We un­der­stand the con­cern for the bridge. But with­out any al­ter­na­tive we are com­pelled to use that bridge,” said Com­mit­tee Chair­man DB Ta­mang. He said that heavy trucks will avoid the bridge if an al­ter­na­tive route is opened.

Mean­while, Phuentshol­ing Thromde is aware about the con­cern but said in ab­sence of an al­ter­na­tive route, noth­ing can be done at the mo­ment. With two new bridges in the pipe­line, the is­sue is ex­pected to ease. One bridge at the con­flu­ence of Amochhu and Om­chhu and an­other fly­over bridge con­nect­ing at the first turn­ing above Royal Bhutan Army camp are ex­pected to be com­plete by 2019. Then the traf­fic con­ges­tion will ease as all heavy ve­hi­cles will be routed through those bridges, ac­cord­ing to a Thromde of­fi­cial.

The Thromde of­fi­cial also said that the vi­bra­tion of the bridge dur­ing heavy traf­fic sig­ni­fies good health of the bridge as rollers are in­stalled dur­ing con­struc­tion. “We have to worry if the bridge stops vi­brat­ing. But when the bridge vi­brates dur­ing ve­hic­u­lar move­ment, it is a sign of a healthy bridge and we need not panic.”

Un­til the two new bridges are open for traf­fic, the Thromde views mon­i­tor­ing the traf­fic flow on the bridge as the best op­tion, al­low­ing a sin­gle ve­hi­cle at a time. “Also, in­stalling a sign board would serve the pur­pose,” he said.

Om­chhu bridge also con­nects the peo­ple of Phuentshol­ing and Logchina ge­wogs with the town. Most boleros car­ry­ing peo­ple ply through the bridge.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bhutan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.