Sluggish town development works in Khuruthang disappoint residents

Having failed to complete the works this January, the Khuruthang town development project is rushing to meet the extended deadline, set for this June. While municipal officials and the contractor say the recurrent lockdowns delayed works, residents blame the administrative apathy for the slow progress.

The construction of internal roads, drains, footpaths, parking lots and underground service ducting works are all pending completion.

Due to these ongoing works, Khuruthang town is in a messy state, certainly an eyesore for the onlookers.

The district municipal office says speeding up the work is challenging since cement factories in the country are still closed due to COVID.

“We have written to Penden Cement Factory. But we received a response saying that they have not yet begun manufacturing construction materials,” said Kencho Dorji, the Municipal Engineer with Punakha Dzongkhag Administration.

A Bhutanese private construction company, Biky Construction Company Limited, is executing the works.

It says the prolonged lockdown over the past two months forced many workers to return to their permanent residences in other districts, and as such works remained unfinished.

All these delayed works have irked the residents and business owners in the town, who demand the works to complete soon.

“The town has become dusty and filled with deep open holes. Construction materials are mounted all over the place. I am concerned that dust pollution might make us sick. Even outsiders are complaining,” said one of the residents in Khuruthang, Phub Dorji.

Others living on the outskirts of Khuruthang town also shared similar concerns. They said the risk of falling into the open ducts remains high causing injuries at times too.

The Khuruthang town representative, Namgay Tshering, supported their concerns:

“Many people come here for shopping and with deep open holes and construction materials kept everywhere, it is inconvenient for them. Some residents told me their children fell into the holes. Their concerns are genuine.”

Some business operators in the town are blaming the local authorities for making the COVID-19 pandemic an excuse for missing the deadline.

“This work would have been completed within a year. But it is running for two years now. They are just blaming COVID-19 for the work progress. But in middle, we are suffering a lot,” said one of the shopkeepers, Karma Loday.

Like him, another businessman, Phub Dorji, added, “We have not even seen the contractor here. These days, we also do not see the workers, who worked at the site near our places last time.”

However, the construction firm explains its side of the story.

“It’s a bit challenging as we have to consult with all the relevant officials to ensure the safety of underground cables while doing the foundation works. Otherwise, there is a high chance of damaging the public amenities,” said Jigme Dorji, the Project Engineer of Biky Construction Pvt Ltd.

Meanwhile, more workers are expected to arrive at the site in the coming days to accelerate the work.

“It must be true about the public facing problem. But it does not mean that the thromde and dzongkhag did not do anything. We are giving our best despite facing workforce shortage after the recent lockdown,” added the Municipal Engineer.

The ongoing urban development works in Khuruthang, which began in February 2020, are being executed with a budget of more than Nu 61 M.

It is being funded by the Government of India.

The district municipal office has proposed a separate budget of more than Nu 7.4 M from the government for the installation of streetlights within the town.

Changa Dorji, Punakha

Edited by Pema Lhaden

The post Sluggish town development works in Khuruthang disappoint residents appeared first on BBSCL.

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