The road which was blacktopped a year and a half  ago is already pockmarked with potholes

Roads: Teams of experts from Thimphu including officials from the Samdrupjongkhar regional Department of Roads office has begun an investigation into the condition of the Panbang to Nganglam highway.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay called for an investigation during his visit to Norbugang gewog last month.

Lyonchoen asked the dzongkhag to investigate the poor condition of the 55km Panbang dungkhag to Nganglam dungkhag highway, which was blacktopped about a year and a half ago.

Despite being blacktopped less than two years ago, the highway is already pockmarked with potholes.

Residents said the highway has also developed cracks at certain points, which is a safety risk especially when the monsoon arrives. Some portions of the highway are in worse conditions than a farm road, residents said.

Lyonchoen asked for the investigation team to find out whether the contractor, Department of Roads or truck drivers were responsible for the road’s disintegration.

The construction of the highway was completed in May 2015 from the Nganglam side and in October from the Panbang side. The two roads meet at Yangtsho village, 25km from Panbang dungkhag.

Although the highway is yet to be officially inaugurated, trucks carrying Dungsam Cement products and Druk Gyyproduct and Chemicals Ltd goods from Nganglam ply on the Panbang to Nganglam highway for the Mangdechhu hydropower and Punatsangchhu I and II projects.

Apart from truckers, people of Norbugang gewog also travel via the highway since the road passes through the gewog. Visitors to Zhemgang or Panbang. also use the highway.

A Japanese company Narushin Shitaka Construction Company constructed the highway, funded by the Asian Development Bank at an estimated cost of about Nu 988 million.

The team members compromising of specialists like chief engineers, laboratory technicians, pavement and construction expertise arrived in Nganglam yesterday.

Regional chief engineer Jigme Choidup said the team is investigating if the road is damaged because of trucks or if it was due to the quality of the pavement, among others.

“We’ll basically find out the causes for road damage and if the pavement design was as per the tender, among others. We’ve got all the required materials and equipment ready for the investigation.”

The investigation is expected to be completed in three days after which a detailed report would be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Nganglam