December 27, 2016
On December 26, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement (G/A) with the Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan to provide grant aid of up to 2.156 billion yen for the Project for Reconstruction of Bridges on Primary National Highway No. 4.
This project will replace four bridges (Beteni, Passang, Samkhara and Telegangchu) along National Highway No. 4 in Trongsa and Sarpang Districts in the southern part of the Kingdom of Bhutan. This will improve the performance and safety of those bridges, ensuring stable transportation and thereby stimulating the local economies and improving the living environment there.
The highway network in the Kingdom of Bhutan is composed of National Highway No. 1, which traverses the country east to west, and four highways, National Highway No. 2 to 5 (total distance of 1,860 kilometers as of 2013), which travel southward to the Indian border. Of those, National Highway No. 4 connects Trongsa, a core city in central Bhutan, and Gelephu, a core city in the south, and is a vital roadway from the perspective of transporting goods and people. Currently, construction is underway on the Mandechu Hydropower Plant, which is expected to drive the country’s economy. As the power plant site is located along National Highway No. 4, the highway plays an important role for the transportation of construction materials and equipment. However, there are many bridges along the route that were built before the 1990s that have deteriorated and do not meet current design standards for width or load capacity, and ensuring stable transportation is a priority.
By replacing the four deteriorating bridges, this project will increase the maximum tonnage of vehicles that can pass as well as the annual volume of freight transported along the highway, which is expected to improve the stability and efficiency of transportation in the target regions. In addition to this project, JICA is currently implementing a technical cooperation project for capacity development in bridge construction and maintenance, under which a management system is being developed and human resources are being trained in the areas of construction supervision, maintenance and management for bridges. These initiatives are comprehensively supporting the development of the transportation infrastructure in Bhutan through both physical infrastructure and human resource training.