Save for six kilometres, Gasa residents could expect the 75km road that connects Gasa to Punakha to be blacktopped by next year.

Works to blacktop the road began in early 2016 by the department of road’s regional office in Lobesa. Chief engineer GM Rai said they have completed blacktopping 41kms while works on the base course and drainage construction on another 16kms is underway. The department also awarded another two work-packages to blacktop another 19kms.

GM Rai said the remaining stretches, one after crossing Damji and another at Gathana is unstable and remains muddy and wet throughout the year. Given this condition, the works and human settlement ministry recommended to not blacktop those stretches for sometime.

Both bridges at Gathana I and II were washed away in a cloudburst in 2012, which left the dzongkhag cut off for more than three months and without power for around six months.

Since then, the area has become vulnerable, GM Rai said. While the department did reconstruct the bridge over Gathana-I River, the area’s instability has deterred them from rebuilding the second bridge at Gathana-II. He said they have provided RCC-hume pipes, which is being used to cross the river.

Dzongdag Dorji Dhradhul said the blacktopping of the road is of much importance to the dzongkhag and that the administration  has been monitoring and inspecting the works. “We met with site engineers and contractors at Tashithang, involving local leaders, to ensure better quality of the road,” Dorji Dhradhul said.

This year, the road will reach Panikong from Tashithang, around seven kilometres short of Damji, he said.

Having a blacktopped road is expected to encourage civil servants and more contractors to take up works in Gasa, the dzongdag said. Unlike previous years, where the road to Gasa remained mostly blocked, no major roadblock was reported last year, officials said.

Dawa Gyelmo