English | Dzongkha Thursday, November 23, 2017

First stretch of Northern East-West Highway inaugurated

Sonam Phuntsho, Thimphu
Jun 29, 2017

The first stretch of Northern East-West Highway from Simtokha to Wangdue was inaugurated Yesterday. The Foreign Minister, Damcho Dorji and the Works and Human Settlement Minister, Dorji Choden inaugurated the 65-kilometre Simtokha-Wangdue upgraded highway.

The Highway, which stretches from Simtokha to Trashigang, was accorded top priority by the government and included as a new activity in the 11th Five Year Plan. It is often described as a vital transport link of the country.

“The road which starts from Simtokha to Wangdue Zam is the main trunk road which goes to central districts and then it goes further to the east,” said Lyonpo Dorji Choden adding that the widening work in the remaining stretches are in full swing. “Widening is almost done and now our contractors are working on the pavement, retaining walls, drainage, and so these will also be blacktopped.

The total length of the Northern East West highway is 510 kilometres. This is the first stretch of Northern East-West Highway, out of 6, to be inaugurated which was constructed at a cost of Nu 764m.

However, the up-gradation and works to double lane this highway has not been without criticism. There were issues related to quality of work, damages to the environment and even disruption to the community of their water sources.

To this Works and Human Settlement Minister said the criticism in fact helped them to improve standard of work and quality, and also to extent what techniques to be used in road construction.

“It is not easy on the hilly road where mountains come down, where streams become flashfloods and sometime you have adverse condition like Dochula where it freezes in winter and summer is very difficult with rain,” she said. “People must understand the difficulties that are being faced and understand how much government is investing in road.”

At the first quarter of next year, when the Northern East-West Highway is completed, it would have cost close to Nu 7bn. The up-gradation works started towards end of 2014. It was launched by the Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee in November 2014 at the Convention Centre in Thimphu.

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