Choki Wangmo | Dagana

For missing the construction deadline of a six-unit classroom at Daga Higher Secondary School in April this year, Dagana dzongkhag administration not only penalised the contractor but also made him dismantle and reconstruct the structures that did not meet the standards.

This is one of the dzongkhag’s stringent measures to ensure quality construction including the roads across the gewogs.

Dagana Dzongdag, Duba said that the dzongkhag reported the highest rate of poverty in the country and to come out of such conditions, the developmental activities should be sustainable. “As a donor-dependent country, we should not waste public resources. It is observed that most of the structures had to be maintained a year after completion.”

For example, the dzongdag said that mishaps worth more than Nu 200 million (M) were reported in the first phase of GSB road construction. “All 14 gewogs in Dagana have one GSB road each but without monitoring, the quality was compromised.”

In February this year, the same construction company for Daga HSS was penalised for compromising the construction quality of a six-unit classroom building in Tsangkha Middle Secondary School.

The contractors had to dismantle and rebuild the partition walls and reinforce concrete beams of the building.

The dzongdag said that the contractor of Daga HSS has applied for a time extension but it was unlikely that the dzongkhag would approve. The contractor, according to estimates, would run into a loss of Nu 1.6M.

At the site of construction, the one-year project worth Nu 12.8M is halfway complete. The monitoring team led by the dzongdag observed that before completion, the concrete beams of the classrooms were falling out, after which the contractor was instructed to rebuild.

Sources said classrooms that were designed according to the education ministry’s plans were not disaster-friendly and could jeopardise the safety of the students.

The dzongdag carried out verification and monitoring of construction sites on his tour of the dzongkhag. On his social media page, for example, he wrote: “As implementing agencies, we must ensure quality of work is not compromised. Dagana dzongkhag will not tolerate it and the construction firms must know our zero tolerance.”

The dzongkhag planning officer, Sonam Jamtsho, said that the dzongkhag developed proper monitoring and verification procedures in 2019. In the past, he said that the dzongkhag monitored the projects but lacked documentation.

The planning officer who now leads the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of projects was part of the dzongkhag monitoring committee (DMC) in the past.

From January to June this year, DMC has rectified 10 projects in 11 gewogs in Dagana.

He said that the project handing-taking system in the dzongkhag had been amended. “Everyone is accountable from beginning till the end, including the officials.”

DMC carries out the handing-taking of the projects according to the reports of the assessment and verification team.

According to audit reports, the construction sector continues to have the highest budget irregularities in the country. In 2019, with over Nu 520M, the works and human settlement ministry reported the highest number of irregularities among the budgetary agencies.

Edited by Tshering Palden