With no signs of progress with the construction of the two 96-bed hostels for Dungtse Central School in Phongmey, Trashigang, residents are growing impatient.

The two structures, which were scheduled to complete by June last year, remains covered in thick undergrowth today.

The dzongkhag’s tender committee (DCT) had terminated the works earlier this year after the contractor, Dechen Construction, failed to meet the deadline.

Phongmey gup, Pelden Dorji, said people have been questioning the role of gewog administration in taking action against such delays. “People think that the gewog is doing nothing to solve the issue. However, the gewog administration was not involved during the awarding of the contractor for that matter on any process for the construction works.”

The gup said that only when the project was terminated following the delay that the dzongkhag administration handed over the properties at the site to the gewog office. “We have reported of the issue to the dzongkhag and they are all aware of the challenges it has brought to the school and community.”

One of the residents, Norbu, said the students were suffering from limited space in the hostels. “It’s been almost four years now but we have not seen any work progress at the site.”

He said that a letter signed by some 85 people from Phongmey chiwog was submitted to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), the gewog and dzongkhag administrations last month seeking clarification on the delayed hostels.

“We do not know if the budget was misused or if it was not enough for the construction. Whatever the case, people should not suffer like this,” said Norbu.

The central school has 659 students, of which 502 are enrolled as boarder. The four existing hostels in the lower campus of the school have 10 rooms each. Each room accommodates 20 students.

School staff said that in an ideal situation, each room could accommodate about 12 students. It was learnt that 22 students shared beds in the hostels.

The upper campus of the school has built temporary hostels for the 69 boarding students in old staff quarters. Given the limited space, students sleep on mattresses laid on the floor.

Each room has about 18 students. Some teachers said that the celling leaked during monsoon.

Gup Pelden Dorji said that with the growing intake of students every year, the space crunch could become more challenging.

Officials from the dzongkhag administration said that despite providing extension to the project, the contractor made no progress at the site, which was why the DTC terminated the contract.

Officials said that the same contractor had also missed the deadline for the construction of a 96-bed hostel in Bidung Lower Secondary School in Trashigang.

Trashigang DTC on April 11 terminated project of two contractors, Dechen and Zhangchong, for failing to complete the construction projects at three different locations. It was learnt that besides failing to meet the deadlines, the two companies repeatedly failed to attend the meetings called by the DTC.

The two companies are sister companies.

Dechen construction quoted Nu 26.690 million (M) for the construction of two hostels in Dungtse CS. Officials said that the dzongkhag had paid Nu 20.303M for the works. However, before the termination of the work, the contractor carried out works worth Nu 15.190M. There was an excess payment of Nu 5.112M.

In Bidung, the contract amount was set at Nu 13.980M.  During the work valuation, it was found out that there was an excess payment of Nu 6.641M made to the contractor by the dzongkhag.

The dzongkhag administration forwarded the case to the dzongkhag court on August 21. However, noticing a possible criminal nature of the case, the court did not accept the case.

It was learnt that the police also did not accept the case, which is why the dzongkhag administration in September forwarded the case to the ACC.

Younten Tshedup | Phongmey