Connectivity: The groundbreaking ceremony for the widening of the Chuzom-Haa road took place yesterday at Neymo in Naja gewog, Paro.

Works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, with Border Roads Organisation director general Lt General Suresh Sharma, AVSM, inaugurated the event.

The widening works will however begin from Neymo around 29km away from Chuzom at a point where a 13.1km bifurcation from Chukha-Damchu through Wanakha and Susuna meets. A total of 50.1km towards Haa from Neymo will be widened.

According to a DANTAK press release, the proposed road from Neymo will connect the 29km road from Chuzom and Chukha-Damchu bypass, shortening travel distance between Haa to Phuentsholing by 53km.

“In the foreseeable future, with completion of both Damchu-Chukha realignment and Chukha-Haa link the travel time between Phuentsholing and Haa will be reduced approximately by two hours,” says the press release.

While no finalised date was released about when the widening works would begin, an official from DANTAK said that it should commence soon.

“I am happy to be with the Lt General to inaugurate this widening and improvement of Chuzom-Haa road,” Lyonpo Dorji Choden said.

The minister said the Chuzom-Haa link will enhance the connectivity between Phuentsholing, Thimphu, Paro and Haa. “The widening will not only improve connectivity, but also considerably reduce travel distance between Haa and Phuentsholing by 53km,” Lyonpo Dorji Choden said.

“It is going to make the road safer and comfortable to drive,” she added.

Naja Gup Kado said that the widening works will reduce travel time from Thimphu to Haa by one-and-a-half hours from three hours currently. “People travelling to Phuentsholing would equally benefit from the widening.”

The widening and improvement of 50.1km part of this road is timely, according to the minister. Apart from the two dzongkhags, Royal Bhutan Army and IMTRAT will also benefit from the widened roads.

“People of Paro and Haa are already looking forward to its early completion. Ease and comfortable drive and economic growth this road is going to bring to their communities,” the minister said.

DANTAK, the minister said, is known to Bhutan not only officially, but also at the level of people to people. “We remain indebted and grateful to project DANTAK for their invaluable contribution, particularly in the area of infrastructure and road networks in Bhutan,” Lyonpo Dorji Choden said.

While commending the completion of 29 percent of formation cutting of the bypass in a year’s time, the minister said that the Border Roads Organisation is engaged in widening of Trashigang-Samdrupjongkhar highway, Damchu-Chukha bypass, and Paro-Drukgyel road besides conducting regular maintenance works.

The project has also taken a section of widening work on the east-west highway, which is the priority of the 11th Plan since the highway is the lifeline to the northern, central and eastern part of the country.

“So, the government of the day pledged to the people it will be completed in the 11th Plan, and we believe that this will be realised as Government of India has given us the full financial support,” the minister said.

The minister also reminded that there is an increasing need to cater to rising people’s expectations with Bhutan’s rapid development in social, economic and political aspects. “With the introduction of democracy, social media is another arm of governance. People are more aware, demands, expectations, quality and timely service have increased by manifolds,” she said, adding that the government and public servants are subject to greater pressures to answer to people and be accountable.

She said that of all, road infrastructures stands out because of its visibility since everyone needs road and drives on it feeling the comfort or discomfort as a driver, passenger and onlookers. It is easy to raise eyebrows and point fingers about the roads.

“So, just to mention a few, the ministry and the project DANTAK know that we have been repeatedly questioned on Chukha-Damchu bypass and Trashigang-Samdrupjongkhar highway widening,” Lyonpo said.

She said that the ministry and DANTAK will try their best to complete the works at the earliest.

The minister also highlighted the challenges of ensuring good and all-weather roads under the heavy monsoons and in the hilly and fragile terrain. Only the project DANTAK and Department of Roads will understand the difficulty of fighting against odds of nature and impatient road users, she added.

“Meeting the increasing expectations of the people is a challenge we will continue to face. It also reminds us to prepare ourselves for the new and changing environment,” the minister said.

Tempa Wangdi