East-west highway to be completed by March 2018

The earlier deadline was December 2017

Road: While most of the work on the lateral East-West highway will be complete by the end of 2017, work on a few stretches might have to be extended by a few months, according to the government.

Works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden said the latest deadline for road widening works is March 2018. The earlier deadline was December 2017.

The roads department reported almost 75 percent of the widening works as completed on March 31, 2016.

Going by the contract schedules, almost 90 percent of the widening works should be complete by around this time next year.

Of the total 382.9km widening works under progress 109.59km is done departmentally and 153.96 is contracted out. Project DANTAK has taken up a 52km stretch of the highway between Yadi and Trashigang.

Widening and pavement works began by the end of 2014.

Despite an unusually heavier monsoon this year, most works on the Thimphu-Mongar highway are on schedule except for two contractors. The ministry has given them until November 2016 to catch up or else their contracts will be rescinded.

The minister said the government is determined to deliver a top-quality highway.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said the government keeps constant watch on the progress of the road.

“I receive a lot of calls about the quality of works but there are lots of checks to ensure quality,” lyonpo Dorji Choden said.

The minister accompanied Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and the DANTAK chief engineer to Trashigang via helicopter. The team returned after travelling on the road from Trashigang to Yadi, Mongar.

The stretch has not been blacktopped yet, but the minister said works are in progress.

The widening of the East-West highway, Lyonchoen said is a valuable investment but it’ll become a lifeline of the country. “Most importantly the pride of our people,” he said.

Widening the highway was one of the pledges his party made before winning the elections. The government is trying to accomplish it before it completes its tenure.

“There are challenges, disturbance to businesses and inconvenience to travellers. However, I’m confident that we’ll complete it by 2018,” Lyonchoen said.

Tshering Palden

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