Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

The only hitch amid a smooth journey through widened and improved Mongar-Trashigang highway, the 11kms stretch of road between Korila and Ngatsang, will be blacktopped soon.

Department of Road’s (DoR) chief engineer in Lingmethang, Karma Rinzin, said the tender for the work will be floated by February next year.

He said work will include drainage, base course and two layers of blacktopping with the thickness of 75mm dense bituminous macadam in the bottom and 50mm asphalt concrete on the top.

“Work period will be for 13 months,” the chief engineer said.

He explained the blacktopping work got delayed after the previous contractor was terminated for failing to deploy site engineer in line with the contract documents. “That is considered a fundamental breach of contract and we had terminated him.”

Commuters, however, said the blacktopping work is long overdue since it has been more than five years the old road was widened.

The owner and driver of Mongar-Sershong local bus, Dorji, said he had to take the bus to workshop every week for maintenance. “Moreover, the pathetic condition of the road poses great risk to the passenger.”

Another commuter, Kelzang Dawa from Chaskhar said it takes around an hour and a half to cross the stretch, which could usually take half an hour before.”

Meanwhile, Karma Rinzin said the stretch between Korila and Yadi would be also improved and maintained by the end of 2020.

He explained that DoR also terminated another contractor, who was widening a stretch of 5kms from Korila top towards Mongar and awarded the work to another contractor recently.

According to the chief engineer, the former contractor was given more than six months of extension with support of material supply, labour payment and fueling cost in advance. “The contractor was financially weak and we offered our support but despite all those support he failed to make any progress.”

He said the regional office and ministry level tender committee decided to terminate the contract and awarded the remaining work to a new contractor. “ The remaining work is expected to complete towards the end of next year.”

The regional office looks after road from Gayzamchhu in Bumthang to Yadi in Mongar and Kuri-Gongri confluence towards Nganglam.

Karma Rinzin also said the widening and improvement work of the 60kms stretch between Thrumshingla and Yongkola would also commence soon.

He said a detailed project report (DPR) was submitted, following which the regional office has recently received Nu1003.76 million for the widening and improvement, and the tender is expected to be floated by July next year.

In the stretch between Thrumshingla and Latongla, the chief engineer said widening in some areas was already done and the widening and blacktopping would continue in those areas that are not done.

However, from Latongla where the road passes through Namling cliff to Yongkola, only thick blacktopping with permanent works like expanding the blank curves to make the road clearer for drivers and culvert extension would be done.

Karma Rinzin said DoR is also exploring to construct the Lingmethang-Latongla bypass road via Menchugang in Saling, which is expected to shorten the distance between Lingmethang and Sengor by 35kms. “A study on it was conducted and it would immensely benefit the commuters immensely.

However, the regional office could not widen the four-kilometre stretch between Kurizampa and Gyalpozhing due to budget constraints. “Given the traffic congestion, widening and blacktopping has become a priority but we could not pursue due to lack of budget,” he said.