Works and human settlement minister cite stability problems

The government will not be able to meet its pledge to blacktop all gewog centre (GC) roads by the end of its term next year.

Blacktopping the GC roads was one of the government’s major pledges during the run-up to the general elections in 2013.

Against the pledge of blacktopping all GC roads, the government will complete 157 by the end of its term next year, the works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden said.

Of the 205 GC roads, 46 have been blacktopped so far and by December this year, 74 more will be completed.

The minister said five GC roads are new construction and it cannot be blacktopped. “Three gewogs cannot be connected with roads and two other GC roads don’t need blacktopping.”

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that in Samrang, even the highway is yet to be blacktopped and the other gewog road is Tongmijangsa GC road, which will be done by the Kholongchhu hydropower project as it is part of the project’s road.

The minister said this while responding to Mongar’s Kengkhar-Weringla MP Rinzin Jamtsho’s question on whether the government would fulfil the pledge of blacktopping all the GC roads and if the government would black top the Gongdue GC road.

The MP said that many GC roads are not included in the blacktopping list. “In my constituency, GC roads to the poverty-ridden gewogs of Silambi and Gongdue are not included in the plan for blacktopping,” he said.

Like the Gongdue GC road, the minister said there are 18 such roads in Chukha, Dagana, and Zhemgang that were not included in the blacktopping list.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that it is not because the government doesn’t want to blacktop the roads. “The government studied the feasibility of blacktopping the GC roads, which began initially as farm roads, and found that some were steep, others narrow, and then some passing through poor geology,” she said. “A few were recently built and are not stable.”

The minister said that the government could carry out the blacktopping but did not because those roads would not last.

She said that the Gongdue GC road is an important link road between Gyalpoizhing and Nganglam but because it is a new road, blacktopping is not feasible. “The road needs to stabilise first or else the blacktopping would not last.”

Tshering Palden