30 August, Bumthang; His Excellency Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Minister for Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) handed over farm road construction machineries to each Dzongkhag Administration represented by the Dzongdas at the Central Machinery Unit, MoAF, Bumthang.
The new machineries were handed over in the presence of His Excellency Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan and Dzongkhag Tshogdue Thrizins and DAO of the 20 Dzongkhags.
The machineries that were deployed includes a Hydraulic Excavator SK 200-8 with rock breaker and spare bucket and a Back Hoe Loader CASE580T. Operators trained at the Central Machinery Unit (CMU) were also provided for each machinery.
The machineries were part of the aid provided by JICA to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Bhutan under the third phase project ” Improvement of Machinery and Equipment for construction of Rural Agriculture Road in the Kingdom of Bhutan” for construction of farm roads in the 11 Five Year Plan and beyond.
Machineries and equipment worth Nu. 443.23 million was provided under the project.
Bhutan is estimated to have more than 8000 kilometers of farm roads by the end of the 11 Five Year Plan, with such increase in farm road connectivity within the country it was found necessary to enhance capacities to administer and maintain road connectivity at the local government level.
HE Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay shared that strengthening the capacity of local government will help pursue a regionally more balanced development.
Lyonchhen shared that these heavy machineries will empower the local government to build and maintain farms roads apart from being able to use them to respond during disasters, help framers develop farm lands, build and maintain irrigation channels. Lyonchhen urged the Dzongdas to ensure optimum utilization the machineries and also urged that proper and regular maintenance of the machines should be of precedence.
Lyonchen also expressed his outmost gratitude to the Government and the people of Japan for financing the equipment and said that this would go a long way towards developing our rural villages.
Farm roads have been an important factor in developing rural livelihoods in Bhutan. Increased and improved accessibility to market and other services are bound to contribute in the socio-economic development of the rural community.
The ‘Guideline for use of CMU machineries granted to the Dzongkhag’ states that the machine should be used solely for farm road construction during 2017 and 2018 in order to meet the construction of 456.7 km of new farm roads, a target agreed with the donor.
The guideline also stress that the machineries be used only for construction of new farm roads, maintenance of farm road, land development, monsoon restoration work and during emergency.
With the completion of the project, it is expected that more than 70000 rural inhabitants benefit with easy access to social and economic services.
Bhutan received construction machinery worth 527 million Yen during the first phase of the project and machinery and equipments worth 597 million Yen in the second phase of the project.
-Reported by Tandin Dorji and photo by Choidup Zangpo, ICTD
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