The condition of the highway between Damphu and Sunkosh tri-junction has deteriorated in recent years, making journeys stressful for commuters.

Besides being narrow at several locations, about 15km stretch of the highway is filled with potholes.

The highway has huge traffic flow between Gelephu, Tsirang, Wangdue and Thimphu.

Tsirang dzongkhag local leaders have raised the need to thoroughly maintain or blacktop the 15km stretch road at several sittings of the dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) but nothing has been done about it yet.

The issue first came up at the Patshaling gewog tshogdu, which was then discussed at the second DT in July last year. The issue came up yet again at the recent DT held earlier this month.

Patshaling gup Chabi Kumar Rai said it has been a while since the high way has remained in a bad condition. “The Department of Roads need to maintain it at the earliest, as the road connects many dzongkhags.”

He said it is not just about maintenance and blacktopping it but that the stretch must also be widened.

The gup said the narrow highway makes it difficult for two heavy vehicles to pass through. “Since DoR has already begun maintaining the Tsirang-Sarpang highway, we hope works on Damphu-Sunkosh stretch will be done soon.”

Meanwhile, DoR’s chief engineer CB Mongar in Sarpang said it has been more than five years the stretch was last blacktopped and its due for resurfacing.

He said about five years ago, 20mm thick blacktop surfacing was done but with drastic increase in traffic and movement of heavy vehicle, the road condition began deteriorating sooner.

Following the resolution of the second DT, the department has proposed budget to the government.

CB Monger said phase I of the road blacktopping has been approved and works have begun. At the moment, material and machinery are being deployed.

The phase I package has a budget of Nu 7.1M to maintain and blacktop about the two-kilometre stretch from Damphu.

The chief engineer said that for the remaining stretch, DoR in Sarpang has requested the government for an early release of budget, as the execution of work may not be feasible once monsoon starts.

“We expect to receive a budget release of Nu 20M by January so that we can begin work on another package,” he said.

DoR also recently completed maintaining and blacktopping about 4.8km stretch of Tsirang-Sarpang highway. The work was completed with Nu 13.5M.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang