Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

Riddled with deep potholes and dust, the Bajo-Khuruthang road has long been a nightmare for commuters.

The stretch is nearly 10km shorter than the highway via Lobesa but commuters say it remained in poor condition for over a decade now.

Work to widen and blacktop the stretch began on May 6.

According to project manager Rinchen Gyeltshen, the work was tendered out in two packages.

Package one includes road widening and blacktopping from Bajo, and the second package is from mid-way up to Khuruthang.

“Package two work has begun and work in the package one area will begin after 20 days,” Rinchen Gyeltshen said.

Of the total 8.6km road, the project will widen and blacktop 7.4km. The remaining 1.2km of the road along Thangoo and Wangjokha chiwogs in Wangdue will only be resurfaced.

According to Thedtsho gup Namgyel Wangchuk, the road in these chiwogs pass through the low-lying area and were susceptible to damage due to rising river level.

Namgyel Wangchuk said that the concern was raised in the dzongkhag tshogdu in the past and the Punatsangchhu I hydroelectric project (PHPA I) had agreed to help with the construction.

“I have also put a letter to the dzongkhag requesting the PHPA I to initiate work at the stretch along with the Department of Roads (DoR) to avoid extra costs later,” he said.

However, PHPA I has no plans to construct the road and asked DoR to go ahead with their work.

“This 1.2km stretch is part of the river bank which we have found to be affected due to the construction of the reservoir. We don’t have any plans to begin work right now. Only when dam construction is about to complete, we will take up the work,” a PHPA I official said.

Commuters in the two dzongkhags welcome the road construction.

A taxi driver in Wangdue, Tashi Ugyen, said that plying on the road meant high vehicle maintenance work.

“But the distance is much shorter and the fare is also less if we take that stretch. We are really thankful about the road construction,” he added.

Because the road is identified as a secondary national highway between Wangdue and Punakha, the road will be 5.5 meters blacktopped in width.

With a total budget of Nu 105.198 million, package one of the project is expected to complete by July 31 and package two by June 30 next year.