Blacktopping of a 16km stretch of the 26km Dophuchen gewog connectivity (GC) road in Samtse missed its second deadline of March 31 this year. The project which began in December 2014 was supposed to have been completed in 16 months.

When the contractor missed the initial deadline, the Department of Roads (DoR) provided another deadline of March 31.

The people of Dophuchen are concerned that the deadlines have not been met.

One of them, Khemnath Nepal said that although the road was constructed many years ago, it was not blacktopped. “We still have not enjoyed the facility of a blacktopped gewog road,” he said.

Some villagers also said that quality of the road is not up to mark and is a wastage of government funds.

Another Dophuchen resident Narapati Acharya said:

“Our road was constructed sometime back in 2009, so people are still waiting to see a fully blacktopped gewog road.”

Narapati Acharya also said that people have raised this issue with the gewog and dungkhag office. These offices have been following up, he said,

“I heard the contract was terminated once,” Narapati Acharya said, adding that he also heard the same contractor again won the contract in a re-tender process.

The people are also expecting a bus service between Samtse and Dophuchen. However, Dophuchen gup, Padam Bahadur Rai said that such services would eventually come once the road is blacktopped.

The gup said that there would be many private companies interested in setting up a service between Samtse and Dophuchen.

However, he said that it might take some more time, as six kilometres of the road is yet to be blacktopped.

The Government of India funded the Dophuchen gewog connectivity road project. A budget of Nu 46.04 million (M) was approved.

The executive engineer of the Phuentsholing regional office, EN Chhetri, said that they have been pushing the contractor to complete the blacktopping within the time frame provided.

The engineer also said that meetings are conducted to discuss, update, and plan the works.

DoR officials said that a lot of resources have already been exhausted and that the existing contract should not be terminated as a new one would only escalate the project expenses.

For the remaining six kilometres, base work has already been completed. If the contractor put in all effort, road officials said blacktopping could be completed by the end of this month.

The DoR regional office has released payments for all the works completed. However, payments have not been released for damaged areas and another 10 percent liquidity damage charges have also been applied for failing to complete the work in time.

Meanwhile, DoR has recently awarded the blacktopping work of another 5km from the remaining 10km towards Dophuchen from Halhaley. Works are ongoing smoothly said DoR officials.

A budget of Nu 9.5M was approved. This portion of blacktopping works is scheduled to be completed in June this year.

Another 5km still needs to be tendered out and blacktopped.

Since the Dophuchen gewog connectivity road will connect to the Haa road, it has potential to be upgraded to a highway in the future.

Rajesh Rai | Dophuchen