Road: Blacktopping of the Riju-Bartsham road has finally resumed and is progressing after works were terminated because of slow progress.

The 22.5km gewog road was the first one to be blacktopped in the country. But the blacktopping could not be completed because the contract was terminated following sluggish progress.

After eight months of the contract period elapsing, it was found that only 13 percent of the works had been completed.

The contract was re-tendered and blacktopping work resumed in October 2015. Steady progress has been made since then, according the Department of Roads (DoR) regional office in Trashigang.

But unlike the previous contract, blacktopping work started from Chadhor Lhakhang and not from Riju after it was decided that the road would be blacktopped until the lhakhang instead of the gewog centre in Bartsham. Chador Lhakhang is around 2km from Bartsham.

Currently, half of the stretch between Chador Lhakhang and the gewog centre has been completed. “The blacktop work has almost reached the Bidung and Chadhor Lhakhang junction,” a taxi driver from Bartsham Yeshey Phurba said.

Until Bidung was connected via Rangjung in recent years, the gewog had to route through Bartsham from where it was connected with a 10km farm road.

Bartsham gup, Kelzang Dawa said that blacktopping work is making good progress since the re-tendering. “The base course has been completed and all the raw materials including the aggregates and bitumen are at the site,” Kelzang Dawa said.

Trashigang DoR subdivision executive engineer, Karma Tshewang, said that blacktop on at least 1.3km of the road has been completed. He also said that with the base course and other materials already at the site, the works are expected to be completed earlier than the contract period that ends in May this year.

“The works can be completed earlier since it is done mechanically with the use of a paver and asphalt plant,” Karma Tshewang said, adding that the quality of blacktop should also be better because of mechanisation.

The Bartsham road also connects Ramjar in Trashiyangtse, which was also earlier under the jurisdiction of Trashigang.

The blacktop works is also expected to help the people of Ramjar and Yalang who also rely on Trashigang to market their farm produce.

Tempa Wangdi | Trashigang