Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Commuters using the Mongar-Trashigang highway are happy with the completion of blacktopping works of Korila-Ngatshang road stretch.

Many said that besides shortening their travel time by more than 30 minutes, it was pleasant to drive.

“It usually takes more about an hour to cross this 11kms stretch, but it’s already reduced to about 20 minutes now,” a cab driver, Dawa Singye, said.

A driver and also the owner of a local transport bus plying between Mongar and Sershong, Dorji, said that after the blacktopping, he didn’t have to repair his bus.

Korila-Ngatshang road

“I had to repair it frequently before because the road condition caused breakdowns,” he said.

The highway widening and blacktopping started in March 2019.

However, the road widening work was suspended because of issues between the contractor and the Department of Roads (DoR) office in Lingmethang, Mongar in June 2019, which affected the work progress and upset the commuters.

After more than a year of halt, it was retendered and awarded to another contractor on June 8, 2020, with 15 months contract duration.

The total cost of the road improvement was Nu 129.11 million.

Although the contractor failed to meet the deadline, DOR gave time extension of another six months until the end of March this year.

The project engineer of the contractor, Lobzang Chodup, said they faced difficulty recruiting technical persons like a plant operator, paver operator and screed operator. “Materials had to be imported from India and pandemic hampered the work progress.”

He said even the heavy snowfall hampered the laying of bitumen.

With the blacktopping completed, construction officials said they are left with only road marking work which is expected to finish in two or three days.

“We have already submitted the letter of completion to the DOR and waiting for the committee to inspect it before handing over the work,” Lobzang Chodup said.