Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar 

The 68-kilometres long Dewathang-Samdrupcholing road in Samdrupjongkhar is upgraded to a highway. The condition of the road, however, is no better than a farm road, according to commuters.

Commuters said that it takes more than three hours to reach Samdrupcholing drungkhag from Dewathang as the road is riddled with potholes every metre of the stretch. If the road is good, the distance is about one and half hour drive.

Of the 68km, about 16km of the stretch have been blacktopped. 

A driver, Tashi, said that the condition of the road is getting worse every year. He had been ferrying coal for many years from Samdrupcholing to Samdrupjongkhar along the highway. 

He said there are potholes everywhere which makes driving challenging even for heavy vehicles along the highway. “It is also very risky to ply along the highway in monsoon,” Tashi said.

Another commuter, Kinley, 33, said it is more challenging for light vehicles as it gets damaged because of the bad road condition. He said the department of road (DoR) is carrying out blacktopping works, but the stretch is getting worse as the department does not continue the blacktopping works. 

Residents said the issue was discussed several times in the gewog tshogde (GT) and dzongkhag tshogdu (DT), but nothing happened.

“ Chief engineer with the regional DoR in Samdrupjongkhar, Jigme Choidup, said since the department had already blacktopped 16km, there is about 34km left. He said of the 34km, about six kilometres would be blacktopped in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

He said they would require about Nu 400M for the remaining as they would carry out 100mm blacktopping because trucks ferrying coal ply along the road daily and 25mm blacktop do not last for long. “We are also carrying out maintenance works at the moment,” he said.