Road: Following delayed release of funds, the Gomphu-Panbang highway could miss its 2016 deadline according to the Department of Roads (DoR) regional office in Tingtibi

“Gomphu-Panbang could probably miss its 2016 deadline by one financial year, which was proposed earlier in June 2013 work plan,” DoR chief engineer, Pravat Rai said.

The chief engineer said that the road will now be completed only by 2017 after work slowed down following the delayed release of budget.

Construction of the Nu 1.8 billion 44-kilometer Gomphu-Pangbang highway began in the 2008-2009 financial year. This highway connects the lower Kheng gewogs like Ngangla, Goshing, Phangkhar and Bjoka to Zhemgang.

Before the construction of the highway, road connectivity existed only until Gomphu, which is around 36km from Tingtibi. None of lower Kheng gewogs like Goshing, Phangkhar, Ngangla and Bjoka had road connectivity.

According to DoR, the works are delayed because the budget release could not meet the budget projection for the executed works. The works are being carried out under pre-financing using reserve funds by the government.

The money in the reserve fund is later refunded upon receiving the budget explained Pravat Rai.

So far over Nu 200 million has been released. Yet expenditure has exceeded the released budget by Nu 60 million, according to the regional office. DoR however claims that 81 percent of the works have been completed.

While construction of the Pantang and Rendhigang bridges are completed, 25 percent of the work for Mangdechu bridge is not.

Remaining bridges to be constructed over the Morangang, Gramlang and Dharang rivers will begin this year. Blacktopping on 10km of the total remaining 18.5km will be completed by June. The rest of the eight kilometres will be left for the next financial year.

Other remaining works include formation cutting of 19km and base course on 18km, among others.

The people of lower Kheng say they are already benefiting from the road despite its projected delay.

“Construction of every kilometre of the highway was a step closer to an end of three-four days of walk to the villages for both people and the public servants coming here,” Phangkhar gup Rinchen Lungten said.

Opening of the road has enabled travellers to reach the villages in a day’s time.

Goshing gup, Sangay Letho said the highway also enabled the gewogs like Goshing, Ngangla and Bjoka to improve in the villages. Before 2010, none of the gewogs could be connected by road because the nearest one in Gomphu was a three day walk from these gewogs.

“However, the opening of the highway enabled the construction of gewog centre roads to Phangkhar, Goshing, Ngangla and Bjoka gewogs,” Sangay Letho said.

Today, all four gewogs of lower Kheng are connected with motor roads. And in Goshing even the remote village of Mewangang is now connected with a road according to the Goshing gup.

“This year Lichibi, will be the last furthest village in Goshing to be connected with a road,” Sangay Letho said.

Rinchen Lungten said the arrival of the road helped reduce transportation costs for the construction works in the villages to improve infrastructures besides reducing the cost of basic essentials like rice, oil and salt in the villages.

“More than anything, the highway’s construction has increased the income from the cash crop orange by manifolds for the villagers,” Rinchen Lungten said.

Today, a bunch of 80 oranges fetches Nu 120-130 in the villages while it was difficult to earn even Nu 100 from the same number earlier. 

By Tempa Wangdi, Tingtibi