Build­ing bridges

Southasia - - BRIEFING -

The 8th an­nual Ja­pan-Bhutan con­sul­ta­tion meet­ing was held in Thim­phu, Bhutan. The gov­ern­ment of Ja­pan is said to have pro­posed a change in its as­sis­tance pol­icy for Bhutan, wherein the two gov­ern­ments will con­sider sev­eral long-term projects that would be re­viewed and up­dated dur­ing an­nual con­sul­ta­tions. The de­ci­sion has been taken to en­sure pre­dictabil­ity of re­sources and to al­low greater space for en­hanc­ing the fea­si­bil­ity of projects. Of­fi­cials of the Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (JICA) termed the Maokhola Bridge, over the Maokhola River in Gele­phu, a pri­or­ity of the Bhutanese gov­ern­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Works and Hu­man Set­tle­ment of Bhutan, the bridge was pro­posed to the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment last year as pri­or­ity A, in terms of im­por­tance. Con­struc­tion of the bridge was one of the pledges made by the for­mer MP of the Druk Phuen­sum Tshogpa (DPT) in 2008. But the project did not ma­te­ri­al­ize dur­ing its ten­ure. Bhutanese of­fi­cials claim that they didn’t re­quest any other donor to fi­nance the bridge as they had al­ready sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion to the Gov­ern­ment of Ja­pan. Con­struc­tion of the bridge, which will span al­most 800 me­ters, will re­quire sub­stan­tial grant aid as­sis­tance. Ac­cord­ing to a JICA of­fi­cial, “It will re­quire long-term plan­ning and a num­ber of project-for­ma­tion in­puts from both sides.”

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