Tshering Namgyal  

When DNT’s incumbent Mongar MP Karma Lhamo won the bye-elections last year, the residents of Drepong gewog celebrated. She had pledged to blacktop the Kilikhar-Laptsa road which would cut their travel time to the gewog centre.

The construction of the 11-km bypass which began sometime in 2009 completed a few years ago, and the distance between Mongar and Drepong has been shortened by more than 40 kilometres. Blacktopping it would enable commuters to ply faster.

The bypass has reduced the taxi fare from Nu 1,500 to 1,200. “The fare will drop further after the road is blacktopped because travel time will reduce by half an hour,” a taxi driver, who travels frequently to Drepong, said.

The Department of Road’s Chief Engineer at Lingmethang, Kinzang Dorji, said the regional office has forwarded the detailed estimates to the headquarters for further review.

“We will complete the procurement formalities by the end of September and work may start from October,” he said.

The blacktopping is expected to cost Nu 72 million and is expected to complete within 15 months.

Until then the vehicles will have to ply on the rough road while some route via Gyalpoizhing which is about 55 kilometres away from Mongar town.

Drivers of heavy vehicles said that the road between Drepong and Gyalpoizhing was steep and their brakes heat up easily. “We need to rest for a few hours to let them cool.

Drepong Gup Sonam Phuntsho said villagers have been pushing him to follow up with the government on the blacktopping pledge. He said he learned about the budget approval for the blacktopping when he was preparing to submit it as an agenda in the recent dzongkhag tshogdu.

“Accordingly I’ve informed the public.”

He said that the Drepong-Gyalpoizhing road needs realignment. “However, it could be difficult given the budget constraints.”