Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

After nearly a decade, the Gangola-Lhuentse highway will be fully resurfaced, hopefully by early next year.

The Department of Road (DoR) has received Nu. 36.14 million in the financial year 2022-2023 to resurface the remaining 14 kilometres along the 65-KM secondary national highway from Gangola junction to Lhuentse town.

While the rest of the highway has been resurfaced last year, two stretches-between the Tangmachhu bridge area and Budhur and Autsho town couldn’t be resurfaced due to a shortage of funds.

Resurfacing work between Gangola and Lhuentse began in the 2014-2015 fiscal year with budgets approved for a few stretches every fiscal year.

The dzongkhag also received another Nu. 42 million to blacktop and resurface the Lhuentse-Dungkar road. A DOR official said the budget would be used to resurface and lay Granular Sub Base (GSB) and blacktop the 10-kilometre road between Dungkar and Zhamling.

DOR officials said of the 147 million budget proposed to resurface the entire 42.5 km road from Lhuentse to Dungkar, only 42 million has been approved this fiscal year. “The entire road is badly in need of resurfacing and we could do it if the government approved the budget.”

Assistant Engineer of DoR’s Autsho sub-division office, Gayleg, said the estimates were already worked out and resurfacing works in both the sites would be tendered out by October.

The little improvement works are already being appreciated both by commuters and residents of Lhuentse. The completion of resurfacing the entire highway is expected to cut short the travelling time by one hour to travel from Lhuentse to Mongar, according to residents.

However, the proposal to resurface the more than 15-KM stretch between Tangmachhu bridge to Takela, where the giant Guru statue lies, has not been approved.

Meanwhile, the DOR is yet to construct the bailey bridge at Dorjilung that would connect Lhuentse to the bypass road via Dorjilung to Yongkola.

DoR officials said the construction could not commence due to budget constraints although the parts to construct the bridge were already in place. The bypass is expected to shorten the distance between Lhuentse and Bumthang by more than 35 kilometers, according to sources.