Despite constant monitoring, there is a lot to be desired when it comes to the quality of roads in the country.

Works and Human Settlement Secretary Phuntsho Wangdi said that two parameters – quality assurance (specifications given by the client), and quality control (how the contractors execute the specifications) – should meet to ensure quality.

Quality assurance is the client’s duty; control falls on the contractors, he said.

The quality assurance specifications include layout, thickness, length, height, proportion of sand, aggregate and cement mix.

Phuntsho Wangdi said: “Everything has to be controlled. Contractors should ensure this.”

President of Construction Association of Bhutan (CAB), Thinlay Gyamtsho, said that compromising on the technical specifications affects quality.

He said that although maintaining quality should be a joint effort between the contractors and the client, it should be the responsibility of the client to look after the quality of roads.

One of the vice presidents of CAB, Tshering Yoenten, said that the meaning of quality itself is questionable; for contractors the specifications given to them is the quality. “Doing as per the specification is quality for us. If we need quality work, the design should be good.”

Citing an example of why and how farm roads get damaged within a short period of time, he said that farm roads are designed to withstand six to eight tonnes but that vehicle as heavy as 20 to 30 tonnes ply on the roads. “It’s the fault in the design. So it is not possible for us to control the quality.”

Tshering Yoenten said the contractors get budget for a project only after the final inspection is completed.

Phuntsho Wangdi said Bhutan currently does not have concrete control laboratories to break concrete cores for tests.

Karma Cheki and Pema Wangmo