Chimi Dema | Gangtey
The Gewog Connectivity (GC) road of Gangtey in Wangdue, which leads to far-off Phobjikha, is in bad state of repair. Questions abound. But who must take the responsibility of maintaining the road?
The 15km GC road came to Gangtey and Phobjikha sometime in 2017. It was a proper road, blacktopped and all. But six months later, the road started going bad. The condition of the road has been worsening since.
The 8km road from Wangdue-Trongsa highway junction until Gangtey monastery was last re-blacktopped after His Majesty the King’s visit last year.
The 7km road from Gangtey to Phobji Gewog is in serious need of maintenance.
Some say it is the marsh that is destroying the road. Others say it is the lorries transporting timber from Gogona.
“Summer makes it worse,” said Gangtey Gup Gyeltshen.
And this area of Wangdue has been receiving increasing number of tourists because of black-necked cranes. The road has been an important economic advantage to the people of Gangtey and Phobjikha.
“We have approached relevant stakeholders and individuals using the road for the maintenance but all of our efforts went in vain,” gup Gyeltshen added.
The Department of Roads (DOR) he said, had helped fill the potholes several times in summer but more needed to be done for a more permanent fix.
Tapaiteng Uesa’s tshogpa in Gangtey, Tshering Gyeltshen, said that the road condition got a little better in winter.
But the biggest complain from the people living along the road has been the dust pollution. Roofs, trees, and vegetable gardens remain covered in dust during this part of the year.
Residents are seen frequently sprinkling water to reduce dust.
An official with DOR in Lobesa, Punakha, said that the work was underway to handover the GC road to local government (LG) through the dzongkhag administration.
The delay, he said, was due to the dzongkhag administration not being ready to take over the road.
What is obvious, though, is that there is neither a plan for road maintenance nor budget set aside for it.
LG would be responsible for the construction, maintenance and operation of GC roads after handing-taking over of the road.
With technical support from DoR, the LG can also sub-contract the construction or maintenance of roads to the DoR.
The Phobji Gewog today has over 62kms of farm road connecting 29 villages; Gangtey has over 30kms connecting five chiwogs and 14 villages in the gewog.