English | Dzongkha Sunday, October 17, 2021

Never ending east-west highway widening works

Sep 21, 2021

Started in 2014, the road widening of the east-west highway has been moving at a snail’s pace. Initially expected to complete in 2017, the project will now only complete by February 2023. With regular roadblocks and poor road conditions along this highway, many travellers are frustrated with the progress.

Today, the widening work of over 63 kilometres of the stretch between Ura in Bumthang and Namling in Monggar is in full swing. This contract was awarded in September last year.

And the blacktopping work for almost 11 kilometres of the stretch between Korila and Ngatshang in Monggar has already begun. However, some commuters were not happy with the work progress and the poor condition of the highway.

“When the second government started the project, they said the project would be completed by 2018. Forget about completing it by 2018, the formation cutting is also not yet done though it is already 2021. I think the current government must inspect the project and see what is the challenges being faced and why the project is getting delayed time and again,” said Kinzang Yeshi, a commuter.

Like him, many travellers along the east-west highway said they have endured the inconvenience long enough to have a good road now. Some drivers said they can not afford the cost of vehicle maintenance because of the damages sustained due to travelling on such a poor road. They say sometimes they end up spending the night on the road due to frequent roadblocks, which is inconvenient when they have to ferry passengers.

“Earlier, we can reach Sengor from Lingmethang within 2 to 3 hours depending on the car. But these days we cannot reach even in 4 hours. Due to poor road conditions, small cars get damaged causing inconveniences to the commuters. We would be grateful if the widening work could be carried out quickly,” said another.

But going by the deadline, the widening works between Ura in Bumthang and Yongkola in Mongar will finish only by 2023.

Similarly, the road condition along Chazam in Trashigang and Trashi Yangtse, which is a part of the northern east-west highway project, is very poor. Although the works are in full swing, the Chief Engineer of DoR in Trashigang said that of the 45 kilometres of the highway, only 31 kilometres are included in the road widening project and the remaining stretch is included in the resurfacing work.

The slow progress of the work has left many complaining of the inconvenience.

Unlike the stretch between Ura and Yongkola, the road widening there is expected to complete in September next year.

According to engineers from the Department of Roads, contract issues, unfavourable weather, continuous flow of traffic and occurrence of roadblocks along the highway has hindered the work progress. The Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited and the government allocated more than Nu 1bn for the widening works between Chazam and Trashi Yangtse, and Ura and Yongkola.

 Sonam Tshering/Sonam Dargay

Edited by Sonam

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