People awaiting blacktopping of final 20-KM stretch on Samtse-Haa Highway

In Haa, residents of Gakiling and Sangbay Gewogs under Sangbaykha Dungkhag, are eagerly awaiting the blacktopping of the final 20-kilometre stretch of the Samtse-Haa Secondary National Highway. This completion, they say, will be transformative, connecting them to commercial hubs like Phuentshogling and Samtse in just over three hours.

Currently, the last 20 kilometres from Sangbaykha Dungkhag to Namchu Bridge in Dophuchen Gewog, Samtse, are treacherous and rough, navigable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles during the monsoon season.

Residents prefer this route for its shorter distance and better commercial prospects compared to the northern route to Haa, which takes about four hours.

Tshering Wangdi, a resident of Gakiling Gewog said, “Today, we have to pay Nu 4,000 to hire a vehicle to get to Phuentshogling or Samtse. It is mainly because the road is rough, and drivers say it damages their vehicles. If we have a paved road, the vehicle fare will go down. It will benefit us all.”

 Likewise, Ugyen Tshering, a resident of Sangbay Gewog said, “When we want to sell our vegetables and fruits to potential markets in Samtse and Phuentshogling, there is a risk that they will rot as it takes time to get to the designated markets. If we have a better road, we can harvest our produce in one day, take it to markets, and return the same day.”

 Dorji, who also lives in Sangbay Gewog said, “We mostly travel south for buying necessary items and sometimes to Haa. If the road is blacktopped, we will charge our passengers minimal fares. Currently, we can only drive in first and second gear and use four-wheel drive, which consumes a lot of fuel and time, resulting in higher fares.”

 Help is on the way. According to Gakiling Mangmi Tenpa Rinchen, the prime minister, during his visit to the dungkhag earlier this year, assured the people that the matter will be taken care of.

“If it does, the people of Haa, especially those in Sangbay and Gakiling Gewogs, will benefit immensely,” the mangmi added.

 Meanwhile, the 10-kilometre stretch from Namchu in Samtse to Phutsena in Gakiling Gewog, Haa, has been tendered out.

Initial work, including laying the base course and constructing permanent structures like culverts and drains, is nearly complete.

This section is scheduled for blacktopping by February next year. The remaining 10 kilometres from Phutsena to the dungkhag is proposed for inclusion in the 13th Five-Year Plan.

The surface transport department in Haa has proposed a budget of over Nu 400 M for blacktopping the remaining stretch and maintaining the entire road up to Jenkena from the dungkhag.

Namgay Wangchuk, Haa

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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