Works and human settlement minister Dorji Tshering said the progress on the Samdrupjongkhar – Trashigang highway has been prolonged due to budget constraints and lack of workers at the construction sites.

Trashigang National Council member Lhatu on June 7 questioned the minister on the delay of Project DANTAK’s work to widen the 175km Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highway.

Lhatu said it has been more than 12 years since the widening work started but only about 60 percent of the widening work has completed including blacktopping works. He added that the delay has caused inconvenience to commuters.

“Can’t the ministry fast track the completion because in the recent report, it was said that the remaining 25km road would be completed in three years,” Lhatu said. “Has the government considered sub-contracting few portions to Bhutanese contractors or Construction Development Corporation Ltd?”

He pointed out that the 175km highway was completed in seven years while the widening of the same highway is taking more than a decade to complete.

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering said that DANTAK is working on the 540km stretch road across the country and the ministry met Project officials recently where challenges were discussed. There are only 400 workers when the requirement is 700.

“Ministry officials have visited the site and found that 85 percent of the work has completed and the 25km stretch from Tshelingkhor to Wamrong is incomplete,” Lyonpo said, adding that the ministry has requested DANTAK to complete within two years instead of three. The work on this stretch is expected start in two months.

Lyonpo reported that another 17km stretch between Tshelingkhor to Narphung is expected to complete in the next seven months.

“Although the widening work is not sub-contracted to private contractors, blacktopping would be outsourced and there are few stretches where Bhutanese contractors are involved. The CDCL has also hired three machines to DANTAK.”

About 44 Bhutanese contractors are also involved in about 300km stretch roads across the east-west highways.

“Although some complete the work on time, some are not. It is not only DANTAK that is delaying the completion works.”

Yangchen C Rinzin