The slow and lingering progress of Samdrupcholing-Dewathang irks travellers and residents 

Connectivity: There is a highway that connects Samdrupcholing dungkhag to Dewathang, but the condition of the road is worse than a farm road, according to motorists that ply the road on a daily basis.

Potholes have surfaced at almost every meter and to make the matter worse, the maintenance works that prolonged for years exposed the road to landslides in summer and dust in winter.  Irked travellers and residents said, the highway should have been maintained and widened by now.

While the vehicle movement has increased over the years, the highway is still narrow.

A widening work stretching few kilometres (km) of road was carried out this year and it discontinued without even blacktopping. This, people said, has turned the highway into a farm road.

The issue was also raised during the recent visit of Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay to the dungkhag and Lyonchoen assured to look into the matter and discuss with the Department of Roads (DoR).

DoR officials in Samdrupjongkhar also agreed that there was a need for a highway widening.

However, with limited budget, only about 10km of the road would be widened within this financial year. The works and human settlement ministry approved Nu 15 million for the widening and maintenance works.

The executive engineer, Yeshey Penjor said the department could widen only 2km of road because only three million was available then. He said this was not enough to do other maintenance works.

The tender and evaluation, he said, is already completed and department will soon award the works. “The work will begin within one or two weeks including potholes and drainage work,” he said. Works would be phased out in “stretch-by-stretch” manner because of which more time would be consumed to widen the entire highway. He said the budget for remaining works would be proposed in next financial year.

“But unless we’ve separate maintenance budget it is difficult,” he said.

Because the Samdrupcholing to Jomotsangkha highway is supposed to come up, Yeshey Penjor said no basic maintenance, resurveying and repairing of drainage was carried out for decades.

“But now that DoR office have been established in Samdrupjongkhar, we’re trying to do all the basic maintenance on this highway,” he added.

More than 100 small and heavy vehicles ply on the 67Km highway between Samdrupcholing, earlier known as Bangtar and Samdrupjongkhar, everyday.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupcholing