While widening works on the Northern East-West Highway is likely to take time
Although security concerns remain, the government will soon start the 15km road construction from Rishore in Dewathang towards Khalatsho as a part of 68km Southern East-West Highway, works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden said.
The minister was responding to Panbang MP, Dorji Wangdi’s question on the deferral of the construction of the remaining 253km of the southern East-West Highway at the National Assembly yesterday.
MP Dorji Wangdi said that although the highway was considered a critical national highway scheduled for the 11FYP, the government announced its deferral.
“This has not only upset the people but also left them anxious over when the highway’s construction would start,” he said.
The road from Rishore will join the highway from Dewathang side, the minister said, adding that the 7km road construction from Choekhorling in Nganglam side has already been completed and will later be connected to Khalatsho.
Stating that this highway was not a pledge made by the government, lyonpo Dorji Choden, said that considering the importance of road to the people, its construction was planned with support from Asian Development Bank.
“The Cabinet in March 2015 instructed the government to defer the highway due to security reasons along the borders,” she said, adding that the highway would be built using domestic resources and local contractors within the government’s capacity and at its own pace.
The minister said that the Dewathang – Nganglam highway was approved as part of South Asian Sub-regional Economic Cooperation, which would cost Nu 4.14 billion, of which Nu 3 billion is met through ADB loan.
“All tendering works was completed but before the work could be awarded, the construction was deferred due to security situation.”
On the 58km Samrang – Jomotsangkha highway, lyonpo said that feasibility study was completed with support from ADB RNP II, which would benefit three gewogs in Jomotsangkha drungkhag – Serthi, Lauri, and Langchenphu.
These gewogs have to go via Indian highway to travel to other parts of the country.
“From Jomotsangkha side, the 10km existing road from Jomotsangkha to Khuarang has been improved while 10km of the 20km road from Khaurang to Daisam is completed. The remaining 10km will be completed by the end of 11th Plan,” lyonpo Dorji Choden said. “From Samrang side, the survey, design and environment clearance have been obtained and the construction of 10km road has just started.”
The highway is expected to cost about Nu 1.7 billion.
Lyonpo Dorji Choden also said that there is a need for proper feasibility study to construct both 68km Panbang – Gelephu and 60km Sarpang – Lhamoizingkha highways with domestic resources or grants instead of taking loan.
However, lyonpo said there is grave security concern and the government should carefully assess security along the borders to start the construction. The construction of the Sarpang – Lhamoizingkha highway was cancelled in 2015 due to security reasons.
Wamrong constituency MP Karma Tenzin asked lyonpo Dorji Choden if it would be possible for the government to complete the East-West highway within the eight months of their tenure since both transport operators and people are complaining about the road condition.
Nubi – Tangsibji MP Nidup Zangpo asked why the progress between Tsheringma Drupchu (Tangjsibji Gewog) and Yutongla road is slow and causing inconveniences to commuters.
Lyonpo Dorji Choden said road construction comprises of formation cutting, permanent works, drains, and blacktopping apart from others, which take time.
To date, the 65km road from Simtokha – Wangdue has been completed. Road widening has been completed for 86km Wangdi – Chuserboo road and 30 percent of the road has been blacktopped. The work is expected to complete by March next year.
Constructing 368km East-West highway would cost about Nu 7 billion in three years.
She said that formation cutting for about 1.2km stretch of the 45km Chuserboo – Trongsa road took longer and that formation cutting for 700 meters stretch from Bjeezam to Trongsa still remains.
“The formation cutting for 800 meters on 52.6km Trongsa -Nangar road still remains and the last base course of the road is left because of rocky area,” lyonpo said. “Although formation cutting is completed and about 60 percent base course works completed, the work is expected to complete by June 2018.”
She said that although 33km of the 52km Yadi – Kheri would be completed by June 2018, 12km of the road would not be completed on time. Project DANTAK is constructing the road.
Lyonpo explained that the delay in works from Chuserbu – Trongsa -Nangar stretch and Yadi – Kheri stretch is due to difficult terrain, settlement below the road, and incessant rain in monsoon and non-performing contractors.
“This is why it would not be possible to complete the road on time,” she said. “People might face problems for a year or two during the construction, but lets think about the future where the road would be used for ages.”
Yangchen C Rinzin