Only 200 metres left from the Gyalpoizhing side

Roads: The much-awaited Gyalpoizhing-Nganglam highway that is being constructed from both sides will be completed soon with just over a kilometre remaining for it to be joined at Kuri Gongri.

The formation cutting from the Nganglam side is short of about 200m while about 900m of cutting remain from the Gyalpoizhing side. Had it not been delayed by a change in contractors, the road would have been joined by now, said local residents in Gyalpoizhing.

Two contractors took over the work from the Gyalpoizhing side before Rerab Constructions took over in 2012. The two contractors completed 22km of the 32.46 km road.

Rerab Constructions took more than three years to complete the 10.46km remaining work. The deadline was extended by 36 months up to June 2015. The new deadline is February 20 this year.

Rerab Construction’s CEO Tashi Wangyel said they are cutting road in the most difficult terrain with steep and highly fractured rock formations throughout the road alignment. “Non-availability of basic spare parts for machineries, construction workers and their non-willingness to work in difficult situations hindered work,” he said.

Frequent road blocks due to incessant slides on the finished road, he said, hindered construction materials or fuel reaching the work site.  “I am quite worried how to complete the road with two weeks left,” Tashi Wangyel said.

Chief Engineer of the road department’s regional office in Lingmethang, Lungten Jatsho said a Ministerial Level Tender Committee (MLTC) extended the deadline to February 20. “The committee extended the deadline knowing the challenges and constraints faced by the contractor,” he said.

The formation cutting works from the Nganglam side began mid-2006. Tshering Construction and the Department of Roads started the work. The work was awarded to Rinson Construction Company and it completed about 18km.

However, the road could not reach the confluence at Kuri Gongri as estimated since the area was not accessible for surveying and proper planning.

Therefore, another 700m was awarded to Rinson Construction as an additional package. This package was, however, terminated on the grounds of fundamental breach of contract and the department in November 2014 took up the remaining work.

According to project engineer Thinley Tenzin, about 200m of trace cutting is left before the road joins at Kuri Gongri. “If the machines don’t break down, the work will be completed by mid March,” Thinley Tenzin said.

The national highway started in 2006 from both the sides with an initial estimated budget of Nu. 1.02 billion funded by government of India under Project Tied Assistance.

The highway will have 12 bridges varying from 40m to 50m in length.

So far, 10 bridges have been completed, while one is under construction at Sokorong, and another at Gongrizomsa will be built soon.

 Tashi Phuntsho, Mongar