Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupcholing

The Department of Roads (DoR) regional office in Samdrupjongkhar awarded the contract for blacktopping works of Dewathang-Samdrupcholing highway last month.

This means that the 50kms road constructed in 1979 would finally be blacktopped.

Works and human settlement ministry approved about Nu 219.056 million for the project.

DoR started minor maintenance works along the road in 2014, and blacktopped about 20kms.

The officiating chief engineer, Pema Chokey, said since widening works are completed, the department awarded the blacktopping works of the remaining 30.2kms to contractors in two packages.

She said contractors are in mobilisation period, meaning they are setting up camps and mobilising the equipment. “Works would start soon and it is expected to complete by December next year.”

She also said the contractors would also carry out improvement works such as the construction of drain and walls along the road to make it more convenient to the commuters.

Meanwhile, road users are happy but cautious.

Loknath from Samdrupcholing said political parties and candidates promised to blacktop the road during their campaigns, but they didn’t. “We have to be more careful during the elections because we now realised it was just for the votes.”

He said it takes about four hours to reach Samdrupjongkhar because of the road condition, which worsens every day.

Bim Kumar from Khamaedthang said vehicles get damaged, as there are potholes in every few metres of the stretch. “It’s more challenging because there are no skilled mechanical labourers in the workshops.”

He said the government blacktops about two to three kilometres a year, which gets damaged later. “It would help if the government could blacktop the whole stretch at once.”

Samdrupcholing residents said falling boulders and floods pose risk to travel via the road.

They said concerned authorities neglect the road, as they do not carry out maintenance and blacktopping works despite their requests.