KP Sharma 

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Dorji Tshering, informed the National Assembly yesterday about the government’s plan to take over gewog centre (GC) roads in the 13th Plan.

The GC roads were initially under the erstwhile Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, and later they were handed over to the gewogs in the 11th Plan. However, the gewogs were unable to carry out major maintenance due to budget constraints, leaving the roads in poor condition, the minister said.

The Opposition Party had moved a motion against the government during the fifth session of the parliament to provide an adequate budget for GC road maintenance.

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering said that the roads remained in poor condition because the authorities did not fully utilize the allocated budget for maintenance. Instead, the funds were diverted to other areas of development. He attributed it to the mismanagement of funds by the LG members.

“For instance, of the total budget of Nu 62 million for the year 2020-2021,” Lyonpo said, “only 63 percent was utilised for road-maintenance.”

Similarly, out of the 62 million budgets allocated for 2022-2023, only 32 percent of the funds were utilised on the roads.

For the year 2023-2024, the local governments are directed to fully utilise the budget under mandatory expenditure.

The government allocates a budget of Nu 30,000 per kilometre per year for road maintenance.

Lhamoidzingkha-Tashiding MP Hemant Gurung welcomed the government’s takeover, emphasizing the quality of roads built under the supervision of MoIT.

While acknowledging the role of the national workforce (NWR) in maintaining proper roads in the country, he urged the government to increase the salaries of these employees to retain skilled workers in such fields.

“The government had promised to increase their salaries during the election,” Hemant Gurung said.

Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi stressed the importance of having clear guidelines between the government and the LG to work together.

He said that when the government is involved in GC road-maintenance, it provides more time and resources for the LG to focus on the construction of farm and feeder roads.

In addition, he stated that LG faces challenges in implementing projects when there are sudden changes in policy.

Khar-Yurung MP Tshering Chhoden raised the issue of roads incurring higher repair expenses due to the negligence of relevant officials and individuals during the initial phase of the damage.

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering assured the MPs that once the government starts undertaking the projects, NWF would be engaged in the projects.

“We would give additional opportunities in areas such as wall-constructions so that they earn more.”

According to the budget report for the year 2022-2023, the government has allotted Nu 220.3 million for the completion of the ongoing blacktopping of seven GC roads, Nu five million to carry out the DPR for Dunga GC road, and Nu 49.6 million for the ongoing construction of Laya GC road.

In addition, to ensure that roads are open to traffic in summer, Nu 187 million is provisioned for monsoon restoration works.